Thursday, June 2, 2016

Don't Fence Me In

Yesterday I started a post and the thought of not wanting a cookie cutter kind of life or allowing anyone to put me in a box kind of took a different turn than expected. As I wrote I began to travel through a couple of memories and while not good memories as good ones are usually defined, I saw once again God's presence in those years, seasons and issues. Not only seeing that but realizing the pain that came from those instances had been redeemed and repurposed and used to make me more like Him and to escape the life planned for me. Thus providing the opportunity to praise Him for all His goodness and kindness I've experienced and that those times did make me stronger. It's funny how the unexpected trip traveling through years and years of memories can bring you to a wonderful destination. It's kind of funny because as I have written before of loving all the accoutrements of travel but not really liking travel.  I'm not a good traveler or in travels back and forth from Texas to NC, I am set in my ways. So I am going to share with you my time travel from yesterday. Some of these stories I have shared before and just like when I shared them previously, it is not to vent or for someone to feel sorry for me. Nor am I bitter and still hung up with these things. No, as I get older I see that those things that were meant for evil turned out to be for the good. I happened across an essay written by a woman in one of the writing groups I belong to. From reading her story, she and I had very similar experiences. Almost every thing she wrote came from a why this and why that type of thing and yep, once again I was thankful to have progressed from that particular stage of coming to terms with life. Her story ended with the sad thought she could never ask now because her father was dead. He had taken those secrets with him. My father is not dead but he might as well be since he severed our relationship. I don't care to know why because over the years pieces here and there have fit together and tell the story....

So here you go, my travels from yesterday....

There are times my theme song should be, "Don't Fence Me In." This would be true as well, don't try to fit me in a box. One of my favorite all time books deals with this theme as the main character in the story is afraid of becoming a cookie cutter replica that makes up most of her new neighborhood. The houses look the same, the furniture and trends are alike, no one ventures far from what everyone else is doing. It's like the person who chooses to wear black pants almost exclusively and changing up outfits with shirts and jackets. You play it safe with the black pants as well addressing budgetary concerns and who doesn't love black pants, white shirts and denim jackets? Well, a lot of people don't but it is a great uniform of choice if the cookie cutter look doesn't bother you or it could be a matter of not wanting to think about what to wear. That is my reason when I wear the uniform.

Maybe I come by this honestly because during childhood when the moment seemed opportune for my father, for his reciting the mantra of "you will never fit in, you'll never be apart of anything but being a part of a group called losers." This went hand in hand with his recurring insistence that I wouldn't be anything other than an ice tea lady pushing the drink cart around the cafeteria and the cafeteria we frequented, the ice tea lady was mentally challenged. I remember the first time I participated in serving food at church, complete with hairnet, laughingly thinking I have surpassed my father's dreams for me. Roy and I were discussing my complete dislike of cooking and having that knowledge is helpful if one is coming here to visit, and he said, I think your dislike of kitchen work has to stem from the fact you were told growing up that this is all you could aspire to ice tea cart lady. He might be right, I have never even thought of that but I still love drinking ice tea and I will refill your glass without suffering any trauma or PTSD.

So I grew up thinking I won't fit in and you know, that hasn't been such a bad thing after all. Oh yes, there were those times and seasons where it hurt like hell, to be left out or uninvited, back when that kind of thing held such a huge sway over me. To be in the know, to have gone to_______, wherever the popular place happened to be...and the angst that came with that. Oh it was drama to the max and I felt it was so unfair! It was a huge part of not having any instruction on how to act accordingly by being instructed to be tough, be argumentative, and anger was the best and only emotion to ever show. Good grief, I didn't even want to be with me when I was like that. Although we were told it was to make us tough and immune to life's hurts, it seems now to have been part of my father's mean spirited plan to help the diabolical plan of, you'll never fit in. How ironic that he would grow angry at the fact I hadn't anywhere to go or anyone to play with on the weekends and push me out the door to make friends. Thankfully, the girl who used to beat me up on a regular basis decided we should be friends after one last time of me being her punching bag. I came home two to three times a week with bruises and cuts about my face and arms. Sometimes I was asked to explain how all these marks came to be and I would just say I fell off my bike. I had learned my lesson early on from what happens when you tell the truth about bumps and bruises and cuts when the boys around the block pegged me with a baseball smack dab on my temple as I was riding my bike. I believe there were baseball stitching marks left for all the world to see, but when my father dragged me back to the scene of the crime, those boys denied they had ever done such a thing. So he dragged me back home, spanked me for lying and I was sent to bed, without supper that afternoon and was to get out of bed  only to go to the bathroom until the next morning. I lived in fear from those boys from then on and all the way through high school. They told me they could do anything to me and my father would believe them, not me. Several years ago I ran into one of those boys, now a man, at a reunion and as we visited he apologized for all the threats and fears he had threatened me with all those years. He had since become a Christian and as we said our farewells, he leaned in and said, you had every right to be afraid and only God protected you from what we planned and schemed because something thwarted us everytime.

A relative took me aside and it has been probably twenty five years or so ago and told me that my father's plan all along had been for me to be so helpless and useless and insecure, that the only available option for my life would be kind of like being an indentured servant to him and my mom...I don't think my mom knew this... When I became a Christian at the age of sixteen and when I met Roy working at Pennzoil that kind of thwarted those plans. Whew, I didn't know Jeremiah 29:11 back then but I didn't need to because the Word is true.

God has transformed that miserableness into knowing the joy of life and of His presence. He is faithful and has more than provided for me. I'm no theologian but I know that whether you are asking whys or why nots in your might not ever know but you can know God has it all in His hands and He is not going to forget and accidentally clap His hands messing everything up. Your name is written there on His palm.

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