Friday, October 28, 2011

Plucked from my Heart

The chat box never popped up again and I felt that disconnect that can happen when we are dealing with technology. My daughter's words left me feeling her longing for someone to understand. Instead of desperately trying to make the connection happen, I lifted a prayer to the One who can move heaven and earth when screens go blank and our best efforts to connect are frustrated.

A few months ago, I remember a day I felt I was in the middle of a dry and parched wasteland. I wasn't hoping for relief within months,weeks, or days. I wasn't quite sure I'd make it through the next hour. It was a desperation I'd felt before, filled with a loneliness that found it's way into my thoughts. “No one who understands... or one to call... nowhere to turn.” I scanned my phone contact list and opened and then shut the chat box on FB repeatedly, until I finally dissolved into tears.

As a mother of grown children, you'd think I'd have grown into a person who could share her deepest fears and daily struggles, but the truth is I'm not so different from my own mother who for years either cited some newspaper article or handed down her own words of wisdom when I shared my heart with her. Today I wonder if I've fooled myself into believing that my promises of prayer and either a few scriptures tossed their way or an “I'll believe with you,” are enough to show I've left behind the ways of my ancestors before me.

When I can so easily get mired up in my own personal feelings of helplessness and “not being enough,” what do I have to give to those who came from deep within me, from this broken vessel, and slipped into this imperfect world to be hounded daily by that voice that tells us “you have missed the mark.” I usually do what comes naturally in my flesh. I send words of wisdom from someone else. Someone who has not personally disappointed my children or failed them could perhaps help them find their way.

Soon after we were disconnected, I read a blog piece, words not from a newspaper like those my mother stashed away in her Bible for times like these, but words of comfort and wisdom from another person's life experience. I copy, paste and push Send!

I ask myself why I can't admit to my children the deep pain, heartache and loneliness I've felt in my life. Knowing even a small part of the struggles they encounter as parents today, I recognize my powerlessness to change their circumstances and move timetables. Is this why I shift the responsibility to others to “be real” about the suffering we encounter in life? Will the story of another woman's experiences resonate more deeply with them than mine?

Just a few years ago, my sister placed a stack of envelopes into my hand. Before I opened the first one in the stack, I knew from the postmark, these had been put away for safekeeping for a very long time. The words of my grandfather to my grandmother, scripted many years ago, allowing a look into a time of real suffering in their lives. A time never mentioned while they still drew breath on this earth and now even my mother not here to speak of something that would have helped me understand her more. I longed to ask questions and I longed to tell her how much I finally understood her struggles.

Some say that those before my generation were more private and we are becoming more transparent as our outlets for communication have grown. It is for certain one can communicate more readily with a greater number of people in one's life as technology continues to bring the world into our own living rooms. However, the disconnect we experience with those we love can be as subtle and quick as the closing of a chat box. Opportunities for real communication can fail to take place. Texts and chat boxes, emails and blog comments can begin to take the place of the very real and personal communication needed to have authentic relationships with our loved ones.

Once when I was a single mom, I drove halfway to church with my two little ones and realized I didn't have the energy to go any further. I remember a weariness that night that is inexplicable, except to another person who has been trying to hold it together for the sake of their children until they finally feel they can't go another step. That night I turned around and headed home as I spoke to my children in the back seat. “Mommy, just can't do it tonight,” I found myself saying to their disappointed faces.

The Copy, Paste and Send I sent to my daughter was about a Mother's Sacrifice. Using a description of how a mother duck plucks feathers from her own breast to make a nest for her young, the author of the blog piece was encouraging other writers to go to the difficult places and pluck stories from their own hearts to write for others. It was so much easier to tag along on the heartfelt words of this writer than to speak about my own struggles as a mother.

The fact is, I want my children to look at me and see someone who has it altogether. But, I also know I'm not doing them any favors if they only learn of my painful struggles long after I'm gone. The longer I live the more I grow weary of “trying to hold it altogether.” It's not too late for any of us to turn the car around and head back home with the admission that “we just can't do it this way anymore.”

My mother loved Dear Abby and my sister and I were the recipients of many a letter having something to do with our current circumstance. When I think of all the times she passed along a helpful hint from Dear Abby, I now find myself wishing she'd shared more of her own story, pieces from her own heart.

I love the words of Psalm 78 ….”I'll let you in on the sweet old truths, Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother's knee. We're not keeping this to ourselves, we're passing it along to the next generation.”

I know there were struggles in my grandparents and parents lives. I also know God has been faithful to the generations who came before. It's never too late to tell the truths to the next generation. In Psalm 78 it also says, “Know the truth and tell the stories, so the children can put their trust in God.”

Today I plucked this writing from my breast... a heartfelt attempt at sharing my own struggles and those of the generations who came before. I am trusting the truth in our stories will help my own children and grandchildren to put their trust in God and find hope in His faithfulness to us. May they find the courage to turn around and admit when it's too much and find peace in knowing He held it all together for me and He will do the same for them. May we all find the courage to really share our hearts now while we still can.

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