Holding On to Each Other
In elementary school, living in the suburbs of Missouri with my single working mother, I pass time with a baby sitter after school, until my mother finishes work. That brief window of time becomes my favorite part of the day.
During fourth grade, I look forward to Ding Dongs and Twinkies in the colorful home of an Albanian woman married to a Greek. He cranks Neil Diamond on the stereo every day after work, stares into the newspaper lying across his lap. She circles his chair, flailing her arms in the air, talking loud and fast in her native language. I am glad I can’t understand what they say to each other.
His arrival in the house turns the atmosphere from playful to tense. Feels awkward, like looking into someone’s bedroom while they change clothes.
They have two children, one of them a daughter my age named Georgia. Though we attend different schools, she becomes my best friend. Unlike her insensitive verbose mother, Georgia presents a gentle peacefulness in her countenance that provokes one to kindness. She feels safe. We practice cartwheels incessantly on their grassy lawn, swing tennis racquets at the courts down the hill, swim in the neighborhood pool, laugh about our first bra and talk about boys.
Our shared fate of living in unhealthy circumstances beyond our control links us together. We understand how to keep the shame and embarrassment buried deep.
When Words Hurt
During those years at Georgia’s house, I lock myself in the bathroom numerous times and shed tears. Don’t want to reveal my broken heart brought on by the unkind words of Georgia’s mother. I learn that this home is not a safe place to expose feelings so I let them go in private. Because I can’t bear the thought of rejection.
Then it becomes a pattern, this locking myself in the bathroom to let go of the pain as a child. Because I think, if you reject me, I am a failure. And this thinking, well it is just unbearable, rooted in lies. No one wants to be a failure.
Does fear of rejection keep you locked in the bathroom? Keep you from risking, moving forward?
Gaining Clear Focus
Sometimes turning the aperture of rejection wide puts God’s providence in focus. A fork in the road directing us down the path of destiny.
Pain leaves invisible scars that only you know about, but to God those scars look more like character. Because enduring the pain, it produces character and character strengthens hope in our eternity, and this kind of hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:4).
Whether you find yourself crouching behind the bathroom door in fear, or know someone who is, I pray that you remember that God stands outside the door and waits. He’s always been there, he’ll be there as long as it takes.
Because when he created this puzzle of our life, he made all the pieces to fit just perfect, even if some of them are tear stained.
Linked with imperfect prose: