If I wrote a book about my childhood, it would be hard to believe. I try to laugh it off with my family sometimes by saying, “Yeah, we put the fun in dysfunctional.” The truth is, my holidays growing up were often difficult. My step mother who raised me likely is a borderline personality. There were times when we would drive 12 butt numbing hours to her parents (my grandparents) home in Conway, Arkansas. Upon arrival, she would spew hateful words about how awful we all were and then send us packing. So, after taking my little sister out of the car there Scott, Dad, and I were. Persona non grata at Thanksgiving. Many holidays were like this and they were stressful, heartbreaking times. Thanksgiving was a day when we waited for the other shoe to drop and held our breaths hoping that this year it would not.
Today I made the mistake of calling her to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving. After 18 years of marriage and after having put a fair amount of distance between us, I thought it would be the kind thing to do. Yet again, she had nothing but ugly things to say. She took credit for saving my life (there are no words for such hubris) and actually told me how to raise my children. Other hurtful things were said and then, as always, she put in the last word and hung up on me.
After a good cry and being comforted by my husband and children, I can say I am Thankful! Those days are over and I don’t have to relive them. I am so thankful that I can look forward to tomorrow and that my future is not determined by the past I survived. I’ll not make that mistake again next year, but it was an excellent reminder.
Someone to Blame
We hear it all the time these days. “It’s not my fault!” Our children say it and so do our elected officials. Sometimes, it’s even hard to tell the difference between the kids and everyone else. And, if we are honest with ourselves, in the quiet moments of the day we also say it too. I find myself wanting to disavow any responsibility for the messes I have made and all of the sins I’ve committed.
These days I think we are less likely to use the word ‘Saved’ as though we don’t really require saving. Rather, in our minds, we perceive that we need ‘righting’ or a mere ‘course correction.’ Perhaps it is this faulty (aka sinful) mindset that propels us to find someone to blame. Let’s think about Jesus from this perspective for a moment. He accepted blame for sins that weren’t his—without even a word of protest! And his eyes, the eyes of this fully man-fully God savior do not look at us with blame. He looks through our eyes and into our souls with love rather than condemnation. Jesus doesn’t need to cast blame, because his blood covered and obliterated it all!
If we circle this issue of casting blame and examine our hearts closely, we must conclude that we do indeed NEED saving. We can’t save ourselves from the wallow of sin that we have created; the wallow of sin that traps us. How is it that we can convince ourselves in the face of such compelling evidence that we don’t need Christ’s intervention?
When I was a little girl, my brother and I would take our play shovels into the back yard. We had a plan to dig to China. When we began excavating, we were exuberant and excited! We would imagine, as we dug, what we would encounter along the way. Were there new and undiscovered types of animals down there? What would the Chinese think when our heads appeared through the hole like a prairie dog popping up out of it’s burrow? Would we be able to find new friends and share our discoveries with them? Five or six spadefulls of soil later, we would begin to tire and start taking turns. The exuberance was fading into a steely determination. We had set out to dig to China and BY GUM, we were going to do it! Another round of poorly aimed digs into our hole and determination died. In its place was hopelessness. Digging to China was impossible! Ultimately, we would abandon our ‘tunnel’ which was not even deep enough to plant a rosebush in, and shuffle back to the house feeling defeated, sweaty, and badly in need of a shower.
We laugh now at our silliness! Why would we think that digging through the earth’s core was possible for two kids equipped with a plastic shovel? We do the same thing when we try to blame our way to salvation. Blame is our Fisher Price spade and we are out in the back yard exhausting ourselves over an impossible task. Is it wiser to continue pursuing the impossible when it is easier to accept salvation? I think the answer is clear, but I admit that my own sin nature urges me onward too. That’s a sin I need to confess. It’s time for me to climb out of that ridiculous hole and go take a bath! Perhaps I’ll occasionally be tempted to give China another try, but it will be as impossible tomorrow as it is today.