Monday, April 26, 2010

Ten Miles and Baggage

This weekend I spent a day in my hometown.

My two sets of parents live there. They divorced when I was less than two.

A little more than ten miles separates their houses, but this weekend I felt like I needed a passport to cross borders. I wondered if I would need to go through customs and claim the baggage I seemed to gather between the two far countries. Even my name changes—everyone calls me by an old name that I don’t recognize and rarely respond to because I think they are talking to or about someone else.

It is so strange, and very, very sad, to visit your childhood home and feel like an unwanted guest or more like an utter stranger. When did the language change? Did the dialect always sound like this? Did I always need a translator or has this just been a recent development? I realize I don’t understand the customs and traditions anymore. I have forgotten them, or maybe I never knew them. Perhaps, not only did I feel like a foreigner, but I was seen as one also.

And how odd and disconcerting it must have been to have a stranger living in their midst or to have one come to visit, one they almost recognize and know, but not quite.

I am a woman grown.

I am a woman grown until I go back to my mother’s house. And then I feel like a little girl again— wanting my mother’s approval, longing for her attention, hoping for her affection.

I received none of the above.

But the Spirit is at work, and during church yesterday I thought perhaps she longed for these things and didn’t receive them either. Perhaps, because I don’t know how to speak her language, I didn’t give her what she needed.

Could it be that in her wounded heart she longs for these things? Could it be that she lives with regrets? Could it be that she doesn’t know how to ask for what she needs? Could it be that her mother failed too?

I speak those words because of guilt. You know the kind of guilt I am talking about—the gnawing kind. What did I do wrong? What didn’t I do right? What can I do differently? What words and gestures can I say and do that would make the situation better or at least different. I have had this conversation with myself too many times to count.

I always come home from that far country with a lot of baggage.

As I drove home I thought and prayed. I allowed myself to be angry.I allowed myself to hurt. I allowed myself to grieve.

When I got home…

When I got home, for the first time, I sorted through the baggage.

I emptied and unpacked it.

Item by item.

Laying the articles out one by one.

The baggage was very difficult to sort; there was a lot of nasty garbage. Rotted and decayed things that had been left too long.

And I cried.

I cried for a long time.

Slow, hot tears.

Tears from deep places.

Tears I should have cried when I was a little, lost girl. Tears I should have cried when I was a rebellious teenager. Tears I should have cried when I was desperate college student. Tears I should have cried before I became a mother.

I cried this weekend as a woman grown.

I cried for my broken, inept mother.

I cried for the broken, inept daughter. Me.

We are a broken people. Hurt and hurting. Wounded and wounding.

A very good and dear friend of ours says, “Jesus plus a mess (us) equals grace.”

He says it often.

Jesus plus a mess equals grace.
That is hope. Blessed hope.

And perhaps, more than any other time, in the midst of the tears and the hurt I caught a faint glimmer of hope. Always before the baggage was just too monumental. Too much—too full.

Not too long ago, I read on someone’s Facebook status that the only place to go for approval and acceptance was the cross.

So, I am going to the cross. To Jesus.

I asked my God for healing. I asked him to heal my wounds. And I have asked him to heal her wounds. I have asked him to break the cycle.

And grace will make up the difference.

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