BuildingCharacter


When you were a child, did you ever wish you could be the girl with braces? Or the girl with glasses? Or the girl with the cast? I did. What’s up with that? I never had the braces. I ended up with the glasses. And tomorrow I’ll get the cast. But now that I’m older and wiser, I’d like to take those wishes back. 

With all this free time on my hands to think, I’ve been contemplating these childhood wishes. I think they came from feeling invisible. I had this love hate relationship with visibility. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be popular. Yet I was bad at handling the attention. And when the attention was negative? Like when the boys in 6th grade noticed my misshapen left ear and nicknamed me peanut ear? It was all I could do to make myself invisible again. Gosh we can be mean to each other. And sadly, it was the mean things I believed most of all. 

When I met Jesus 11 years ago, I began a journey to visibility again. It’s been a challenging journey. Exchanging the lies for truth. For believing what God has to say about me instead of people. It’s been a slow journey too. But I’m happy to report that now I believe truth more than lies. And this comes from knowing I am loved by the Creator of the universe who came looking for me when I was hopelessly lost. I was never invisible to him. 

Having a broken ankle isn’t fun and it makes me visible. I really want to handle the attention well so that it brings God glory. Because he deserves the glory. He was with me on that mountain. He caught me when I fell. He rescued me through the amazing volunteers from Pinal County. He blessed me with a free helicopter ride. He took care of me in surgery by giving the surgeon the tools necessary to put my ankle back together. He provided the facility to have surgery. He made sure my team was the team with the most compassion. He placed my cat in my lap as a constant comfort, as if he is holding me himself. He has been in every detail of this journey from the beginning. How marvelous! How wonderful! Is the Lord to me!

3 We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. 4 And patience produces character, and character produces hope. (‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭3-4‬ NCV)

Happy Wednesday!

the pedestal cracks

I don’t think my dad was as awesome as I wanted him to be or thought he was, but as a child I still believed he loved me better than my mom. I could be completely wrong. They were very different.

I remember having fun outings to his brother’s to visit cousins, sing alongs, playing in farm fields, road trips to hike, visiting historic places.

I remember dark things too. Harsh words and “discipline” aimed at my brother, cruel words, hard finger flicking his forehead for talking back at the dinner table that made me cry for him, thinking that this punishment wasn’t right or fair. My mom telling me he never wanted boy children, he loved me more than my brother, planting poisonous thoughts in my head against my dad.

At 12, I was mortified because my mom told him I started my period and he came to talk to me about it. Mortified to find out she told everyone about it when I didn’t think it was anyone’s business. Disheartened when my dad told me I was getting chubby when I couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds. He told mom he’d leave her if she ever got fat.

He wasn’t home much, always working, going to “meetings” or to clubs. Waking up at 3am to loud fighting because he stayed out all night again. I blamed my mom for his unavailability. She was always yelling, nagging, criticizing.

He liked porn. A lot. Not just playboy nudity, twisted, hardcore, degrading porn. Not just magazines, dirty novels. I found his stash in his basement home office. I was still 12? I liked it too. A lot. Even though I didn’t fully understand what it was. I was hooked at a very young age. Didn’t think it was bad.

Tenth grade. Standing in the bathroom. Talking about who only knows what. I said something cocky. He slammed me in the ear so hard my head bounced off the wall, my ears rung. Who was this?

He had many secrets. Never talked about his childhood. Said he couldn’t tell us.

I wanted to be a music major. He said it wasn’t practical. I searched for something else to be. To please him. Then he got sick, had a massive heart attack. I discovered nursing.

A few months before he died, he went crazy, berserk. It started with something trivial, so trivial I don’t even remember what. He raged through the house, tearing the phone off the wall, throwing things, heavy things. He threw a giant book at my mom. I got between them, screamed at him to get the f$&* out. He kicked me in the stomach, ran out the front door to his truck, slammed the cars in front and back and was gone. For 3 days. When he finally showed up again, he wouldn’t speak. To any of us. Not even my 5 year old sister. For 3 weeks he was silent. My anger grew with each passing day. My mom said he wouldn’t speak to us until we apologized. How are you going to do something like that and act like it’s our fault? We didn’t do anything wrong.

Then like a storm front finally moving on, everything was okay. Brushed aside. Like it never happened. But not for me. I punished him back for weeks. Wouldn’t look at him. Spoke to him only when he spoke to me. Short, tense, one word answers. I was so angry. So hurt. I came around slowly. But things were never the same. The rose colored glasses were shattered.

That was the winter we tried skiing as a family. I didn’t like it. It was too cold. I felt like life became a race. Like time was running out.

March 3, 1980, he died. Game over.

His… Michelle
Philippians1:20

memory lane isn’t always pretty

The time I was small, living in Allentown, going out to play with the neighbor kid, walking up town to move through streets and allies and secret pathways behind houses, to climb to the top of the parking garage at Hess’s.

How old was I then? Ten? Twelve? I can’t remember. How long were we on our adventure? Hours? Mom said to go play. Didn’t she? When we came home, the front door of my house was locked. I rang the doorbell. Over and over. She didn’t come. She wasn’t there. Not home. Where was she? I sat on the front steps waiting. How long? Was she ever coming home? Was this the last time she would leave? Was this the final exit?

I’m sure I cried. I’m sure I cried until she returned. When she finally did come home I cried, “Where were you?” “I went to Nanny’s. I called for you, but you didn’t answer. And I got tired of waiting for you. Maybe next time you’ll tell me where you’re going.”

Are these memories even accurate? They’re 40+ years old. Can anything that old even be true anymore?

The real frustration now is these memories are 65+ years old for her. When I try to talk to her about this stuff she just says she doesn’t remember any of it. How convenient for her to have forgotten.

What am I looking for? Hoping for? Oh boy. A simple “I’m sorry. I know I could have done better. I did the best I could.” But it’s the same every time. Laughter. Brushing off. Changing the subject.

So I laugh too. What else can I do? I can’t make her change. I can’t make her into the mom I wish I would have had. She’s the only mom I have. We get along because I know how to handle her.

But getting along and handling are so much less than what I always craved. Unconditional love.

How did I get here? Why is it hurting me so much now? It didn’t matter for so long. Why now?

That is the $64,000 question.

His… Michelle
Philippians1:20

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