Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Weekend, Weakened, Stregthened Warriors

When I was in my mid 30’s I had a test run to determine the actual age of my body. Since I was exercising and trying to eat healthy, my body age came out to be 26 but the age of my knees in my 30’s was 65 years old. Of course Sally O’Malley is going through my head…cause my knees are 65; 65 years old. Now at the age of 53, I can only imagine what age my knees would test out as. If I wasn’t so tired of the song I Can Only Imagine, I would do a tie in and re-write the words to describe my knees, because they are near death and soon to be in heaven.

I am mad at how my knees feel. Too much abuse from sports when I was younger and I thought I would always rebound from the stiffness and soreness like one can so easily do when one is young. Friday night, after a delicious dinner at The Nord Bistro, I helped Dena pick up her TV from Best Buy. We had a much easier time getting it back in her apartment than we did taking it from her apartment. Before we could lift it into the armoire I needed to rest my knees. There was a day I would have done all the lifting and arranging of that set. Before I left I told her how humbling it is to feel so weak when I have been so strong my whole life. Yet, I find in my weakness, here comes the biblical punch line, is when I feel the strongest because I totally have to surrender and depend on God. This applies to my knees and applies to my emotional life too. As children, my brother and I were taught not to be weak. We learned the fine art of arguing circularly. Doug and I learned if we hesitated or even took too long of a breath, we would be beaten down. Always emotionally, but sometimes physically too. I think that my Dad prepared us for life in how he had always dealt with it and never even conceived the thought that our hard earned training would one day be used against him. For years I loved to argue and would provoke arguments. I loved it when I beat my dad at his own game. You see to be good at this, the mind constantly whirls with all manner of what ifs or how comes or finding the smallest hint of weakness to complete the destruction. Anger we learned is the only good emotion. We learned to hold close to the heart our hurts and anger and when a person least expected it, lash out, ambush and hurt them back with more fervor than the original slight.

After living life in this vein for years, even after becoming a Christian, I got mad at how I made people feel. Taking someone down a notch or using hurtful, powerful words to prove a point (and too many times it wasn’t even anything I cared about) I thought I would always rebound from the emotional exercise of sticks and stones may break my bones and words will never hurt me, as one is apt to do so easily when one is younger.

God used a patient husband and a good friend to open my eyes to the evils and hurts of the path I was traveling if I continued to be argumentative. It was a tough recovery and in some cases it took some friends years to believe the change that God had made in my heart. God also brought me a good therapist and counselor. She made me so aware of what anger, even cute funny anger, was costing me.

This brings us to this past weekend. Before I write anything else I must stop and give God praise and thanksgiving that He delivered me from this generational pit of anger and harsh hurtful words. Only coming from His strength, His gentleness and His peace found in His Word. He brought me out and stood me up cause it ain’t no thing that I can do on my own. I only can make bigger mud pies from the muddy pit when it is my puny human attempts. I love Him and declare with my heart and mouth; His mercies are new every morning!

On Thursday evening my baby brother Doug came to town. He planned to spend three nights at my parents. He hasn’t been back to Houston in over three years. There wasn’t any buffer zone of other people; it was just Doug and our parents. Apparently, I am the only family member who saw disaster written all over this. Without going into details here is the blue print, Doug announced several years ago that he was coming out to participate in a lifestyle that my parents don’t accept. They love Doug, but not the choice he has made. My dad has a morbid curiosity of asking about things that are none of his business. My brother has an autoimmune disease, ITP. My dad is easily agitated and remember he taught us how to fight. My mom is in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s and doesn’t follow conversation or thoughts like she used to. Does anyone else see all these facts for a recipe of disaster? Mix in too much time and too loud of TV. Stir in boredom and agenda driven conversations. Bake for year’s unresolved conflict, anger and bitterness. And what do you get…a big mess. Serves 3-5.

So out of this mess, we did not all go to dinner Saturday night. Doug came over for about an hour before leaving town on Saturday night. Actually, I was a little scared about this not so sacred moment coming up. I called several friends and left messages to pray. Got a hold of wonderful counselor Cheryl and she did a ten minute mini review for me of how to handle any conflict that might arise from the visit. Roy and I ran around here doing a fast pickup and throwing behind closed doors of stuff so that our home would look halfway ready for company. All the while Roy was praying for the visit. I was praying not to get angry and tense before the visit because I am out of my comfort zone. The visit went well. No rage. There were a few times Doug threw out a line to see if I would take the bait, but Praise Him, I didn’t. Little red flags went up in me, but didn’t go down the path of arguing and making my point. All through the visit I did what I have been practicing, say something but don’t say nothing. And when someone is saying all manner of stuff, all I had to say was, “say what you need to say.” Those two pieces of advice cost me a lot of money, but today for the special price of nothing you can have them free. This is free as well, take the high road. Oh baby, Roy and I were hiking at high altitude. Late Saturday afternoon there was a lot of time spent on the high road. It must have been altitude sickness that drove me to bed at 8:00pm.

Kind of a funny side note to all of this, I had been cleaning out magazine on Saturday morning and I came across my workbook of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. I had left it on the coffee table in order to put it on a bookshelf later. In all the rush, it never made it. I wonder what my brother thought and if he thought that it was left out intentionally. God certainly has a sense of humor.

I knew Sunday was a coming. And just about 24 hours since the initial phone call informing us there would be no family dinner, comes the call from my dad. He needed to tell his side of the story which of course I let him. Basically he could not get past two minor incidents that happened in the past. All the rest of his anger was fluff. It was timely on Friday that I read an email from TAG…Think About God. Each day an attitude is taken, thoughts given toward it, ideas how to live it and then a verse to cement the importance of it in our hearts. Friday, the word was courage.

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.
Ask God for the courage to focus less on "the way things used to be", and to find ways to live more fully today and to look forward to tomorrow.
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.
Ecclesiastes 7:14

Good words for a weekend don’t you think?
As a woman, you know I needed to process everything that had taken place. Roy told me on Saturday, he did not want to talk about it. He needed time so we talked through it all last night. This morning before leaving for work he told me that even with all the subplots that were going on with my parents and Doug, the main theme was the enemy creating disharmony and discord. Roy is correct and right on with this fact.

Last night as much as bad knees and my lower back ,which was hurting more as the day clicked away, I did a little praise dance. I actually was dancing around like I have seen Ella **dance on her Disney videos. Except for the part of trying to attempt a hand stand since it isn’t a good look for an adult. God kept me from falling back in a pit; a pit He has delivered me from, anger. My hope is that one day I will totally surrender to the deliverance instead of getting a high blood pressure headache and backache after the whole traumatic weekend was over. But I didn’t go to the pit…Yahoo!!!!! I went to the rock of my salvation, to the stone that the builders rejected.

** I don't know Janelle and Ella, but have read their blog. Ella reminds me of one of my nieces when she was Ella's age.


Lisa Pierre said...

ok, lonnnggg! will read soon. all the pretty pictures!!!

Anonymous said...

to use your frre advice...say something, not nothing...here goes...So you have a 53 yr old body, 65 year old knees but a heart and spirit that wants to dance like Ella....Is she 2, too? Praise Him!

Dana said...

I am glad the Lord is growing you. I know it's hard to see loved ones still on a destructive path (especially when they are older than you).

As always you are an inspiration to me.

Lisa Pierre said...

yayyyy party dance with you!
let's eat pizza

Anonymous said...

As I began to read the first part of this post - I found myself singing "Will you still need me, will you still feed me - when I'm 64!" And I do mean singing it...Richard looked at me as if I had lost my mind! I thought I was just kinda humming to myself - but, obviously not! :0