Saturday, December 18, 2010

God-Shaped Hole

I sit in dim lighting, hushed lighting, holy lighting. I just talked to my father on the phone. He responded to my peace email and voicemail saying, let’s talk.

He gets little of what is wrong with us, except to say that we are on the constant defensive with each other. We expect an argument with every phone call. And he says, “we have to promise not to call each other names.” I think, when did I call you a name? But I keep my mouth shut, let him talk, let him say he will never call me a name again and that is what matters in the end. I tell him I will do everything I can to make this work.

I try to explain to him that this is all a pattern. Some time ago, our relationship splintered and we harbored anger and resentment and expected bombs to go off on the other side of the telephone. He says I bring up the past too much; I say he recreates the past too much.

At the end of the day, what matters? Psychology? Patterns? Old wounds? How will I/we ever move on if I don’t forgive and accept that he can never be the father I need – then or now? I must accept who he is and love him for who he is now.

There is mourning that has to go on. My question is this: when do the black sheets come off the mirrors? When do the curtains part to let the light in? When is it safe? Is it ever safe?

God wants us to have relationships. That was the center of Jesus’ life. He spread the Good News to the people and they celebrated (once they believed). Jesus was surrounded by his disciples and friends. Community is important; relationships are important. God did not intend us to be alone. He even created Eve out of Adam’s rib, saying that man should not be alone.

And now we have today’s relationships, which can be cloudy, murky, and overlapping in healthy and unhealthy threads. What compass do we have to go by to tell us which relationships are good and which aren’t?

I think it’s pretty apparent that He said to honor thy mother and father. So those relationships ought to be good ones. Oh, but so often, they aren’t, are they? But when it comes to friends and circles of friends outside those friends, all the layers of relationships you have, how do you navigate life’s storms and celebrations?

My answer is: look to Jesus. More and more, I am looking to Jesus. He certainly felt persecuted and wow – look at my father and my relationship. I have felt that way, too. And what did Jesus do? He forgave them. If they were not going to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit then that was their choice. Ah, Jesus was the first to teach us that we can’t change people. He offered the Truth and the Light and if they did not accept it, he walked on to the next town to preach to the next community of people.

So keep walking. Surround yourself with like hearts and minds and celebrate often. Let go of grievances and love each other.

On friendship and devotion, Ruth saying to Noemi: “Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

Returning to earthy fathers. How am I to move on? I have never been good at moving on, having been in therapy for so long and constantly rehashing old wounds for the supposed betterment of my mental health. I think I need to love my father as Jesus loved people. I need to accept my dad’s limitations and love him anyway. And as far as that unconditional love that every little girl and woman longs for, well, I will look to God the Father for that. Only He can fill that place in a person’s soul, that God-shaped hole in the heart.

"Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck."
Proverbs 1:8-9

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