I was walking past a church and they were having a garage sale. So, I stopped. I found some great things.
As I was leaving, I saw the mom of a friend that I’d grown up with.
Her eyes were some dim.
When I was getting ready to greet her, she turned and stalked away.
My mind turned in on me.
Did she just ignore me?
I ignored it.
I’ve become accustomed to the people of my former faith ignoring me, giving me what should be withering looks, or in other ways translating that my choice to walk away was “unacceptable”.
As we walked father down the street, one of the women in charge of the sale called after my friend’s mom, but didn’t know her name.
So, I yelled it out.
She came back.
And then she talked.
She asked me if I had returned to my faith.
I told her I hadn’t.
She asked me if I had planned of returning.
I told her that I didn’t.
She told me that she wanted to go back, but her bad habits made that impossible.
She might as well have been standing there flogging herself because I could see that she had been beating the emotional crap out of herself.
I felt so bad.
But, I could tell that she felt sorry for me.
As she stood there, trying to convince me that I needed to change my mind, I felt deep pity for her.
Too bad that she thought that the only way that she could be happy or acceptable to God is to be accepted by this astringent religion.
Even now, my mind is wondering, “If I post this, who will see it? What will they say??”
But, that’s just it; it doesn’t matter!
It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.
Or so I thought.
This philosophy was challenged when my mother confronted me about my choice.
I felt like I was a little kid again, like I was about to get whuppin’.
My first instinct was to lie, to hide my truth.
Since my decision, our relationship has become estranged, at best.
It made my mind go back to the past ten years, where my mother did not speak to me because of my decision as a way to show me love and encourage me to return to my faith.
It worked before.
This time, I have come to such a place of peace and clarity.
For the first time in 30 years, I truly feel God’s love!
And I think about the five times per week that we spent in service my entire life, the countless hours spent “disciple making”, studying the Bible…
And how sad that I never felt God’s love!
All I felt was shame, guilt, fear.
Anger because for a religion that was supposed to be so liberating and paradisiac, my less-than-normal childhood, riddled with abuse of all kinds, did not reflect the goodness that should have been.
After our conversation, I could feel my mother separating herself from me emotionally.
Ironically, her words to me were, “I love you”, but it felt so much like goodbye.
A lifelong struggle.
And here it was rearing its ugly head yet again.
It took everything in me not to break down.
I knew that living a lie any longer was not the answer.
I had to walk my path, live my life authentically.
I talked to one of my enlightened cousins.
She encouraged me to stay the course.
I stepped outside and sat on my porch to get some air and so my children wouldn’t see me upset.
One of my friends and neighbors just happened to be walking by.
He had the same message of encouragement that my cousin did.
One of my best friends then called.
Alright, God. I hear you.
I love my mother.
I wish that we had a better relationship.
But, the fact of the matter is she is blinded by what she believes to be true, so blinded that she can’t see her own children.
I know this.
And as much as I love her, I don’t expect her to change her mind.
I mourned my whole life, all the hurt and pain, the trauma, the discord.
And after I cried, the burning pain I’d been feeling in my belly was replaced by a soothing coolness.
I don’t know what it was, but I’m convinced it was related to me letting go of the negative feelings.
But, this was the final frontier.
I realized that she was the only person whose opinion of me I still held in high regard.
Now, I realize that her opinion of me is not her own, but manufactured by dogmatic principles indoctrinated into her after decades of repetition.
So, to be angry at her is like being angry at my son for throwing food from his high chair.
I’m certain that this will be the line drawn in the sand for her.
But, it’s ok, but I truly DO love her.
And I know that God has a plan.
So, I will continue to follow the light.