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Monday, August 20, 2012

I Don't Live in a Billboard Picture of a Beach Vacation

I read a story this morning, in a magazine called The Sun. It was about a young woman just before and years after her older sister disappeared at the age of 16. The sister was found, years later, murdered. 

The author expressed the emptiness, regret, horror, fear, suspicion, danger, loss, fragility of relationships – so perfectly to my own imagination it made me cry. This had been my greatest fear. I didn't want to feel this.  
More than 3/4s of my life I lived in that fear – what happened in this fictional story could truly happen to anyone. My mother was taken from me in my fearful, terrorized imagination many times as a child. But not in reality. My life has been filled with fear of the tragic taking someone from me. My mother, my dad, my husband, my little children, my teenaged children, my adult children, my grandchildren, my pets. 

Writing requires honesty, if you desire to share something meaningful. In the past, however, I haven't handled visits to my painful memories very well.  I thought perhaps I should avoid all thoughts of them. But, it isn't honest to share a picture of joy and spiritual freedom with no context. So, those painful fears are relevant. They are part of the story, the “before” picture, truth. If I refuse to “go there”, to recall what I've been delivered from... what I share will be as superficial and shallow as a billboard picture of a beach vacation. 

For many years, I believed that my fears and pain had to be someone's “fault.” Someone was responsible, if not for a direct action then for failing to take preventative measures. Blame was a close friend to me for decades. It was assigned to whoever was deemed the “root” of the pain I was experiencing. But, no one was truly able to insulate me from every discomfort. 

Most times, the people I held accountable were doing the best they could, with no desire to harm.  They had no control of the neuroses that could grow from nursing a tiny injury that I didn't seek to heal. Sometimes the smallest event can spread like a crazed fracture in a plate of glass tapped not so very hard but under just the right set of circumstances. 

Blame pours its inky black stain all over your images of that person. You cover them so thoroughly that their image no longer bears the truth. Nothing is able to shine through the opaque covering of a handful of actions or decisions amidst millions of intentions, actions and decisions that reveal the true character and identity of the ones you blame. 

So, while I must “go there” and remember where I began, that pot of ink is a boundary. I have no business opening it and no right to pour it over another. Yes, it hurt. But mine is not a life of stagnant victimization. It's a life of movement and growth, gaining strength and wisdom... which one cannot do if she covers every flawed human being in her history with the opaque black ink of blame. We are all flawed. Our decisions and actions may tap on another's pane of glass. Some of these are our children. If we teach them to blame, we help them to spill the ink, grow their fears, hide from wisdom and live at the mercy of the brokenness. 

We aren't whitewashing anything, just recognizing that the painful truths aren't the entire truth. Don't let your story end with ink stained hands, ink covered relatives, and bitterness and injury haunting you like wraiths. It isn't what God intended for you.

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