taking back the name

options were limited and none of them were good. she could run away, but to where and to whom? and who would believe the stories about what really went on at home? did anyone really see her? she felt like the invisible child, even as the oldest.

she heard a voice say, “no one would believe you anyway.” at the age of fifteen, she wasn’t certain who that voice belonged to, but it might be right.

on the outside, their family looked pretty much the same as the other farm families in the area. she never stayed at friends’ homes long enough to know what was real and what was show. one of the neighbor kids had a mini bike that he used to taunt their dog. clearly, there were problems there.

no one heard what happened inside the four walls of the house, or in the barn, or the fields. maybe other farm families were all messed up, too.

she only knew she wanted out. there was no safe place, no haven, no peace. maybe she could go to new york, become a model. anything was better than here. she moved out of the house the summer after graduation. it was too painful and chaotic to stay at home.

a couple years went by, along with a couple of moves and job changes. those were manageable even in her own instability. but then the call came. her mother was hysterical, not making much sense. then her dad got on the phone. something about him having an affair, them getting a divorce. it all blurred together, all the years of fighting, the strife, the fear, the abuse. all of it came spilling out. and it was too much.

now she simply wanted to disassociate and distance herself from all that identified her to the family. it was so broken, such a mess. it felt shameful. their family name was dishonored.

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photo credit: pixabay

for months, she thought of different name combinations that would work, thinking she would legally change her name. she never did. but she no longer identified with that family name. it was just too painful.

the pain got worse before it got better. years went by. people died. perspectives changed. and the big move happened. it was the hardest and it was the best. healing came, layer by layer. the more she cooperated with father god, the faster it went.

distance helped. she could be who she was now. no one was looking over her shoulder, and she no longer needed permission to fly out of the cage and be free.

her mother’s health waned, so there was the occasional trip home. the mommy wounds were deep. forgiveness didn’t come so easily; it was a choice of her will, and nothing else. she certainly didn’t feel it. so she just kept choosing it.

the daddy wounds were different. abandonment, neglect, abuse and blah, blah, blah. the list could go on and on if she let it. family members were getting old. people were dying.

and there was the truth that couldn’t be denied: father god had placed her with her parents. he knew what she could and would overcome. and he said he would cause it all to work for her good.

she and the big daddy talked about the earthly dad quite a lot. “i get that he’s never going be the father i would like him to be in this life. you get to do that for me. i’m good with it now. but, i would just really like it if he would take an interest in who i am and what I’m about. for a minute.”  daddy god didn’t say anything. she knew he heard, so she went on with what she was doing.

then, on a friday night, she missed a call from her dad while she was swimming. concern rose quickly. the only time he ever called was on her birthday. did someone die? was the family okay?

she called him back only to get a message saying his voicemail wasn’t set up. well, of course it wasn’t. she shook her head and tried one brother. he didn’t answer. she left a message.

mom didn’t answer. her voicemail wasn’t set up either. what was the matter with these people and their technology? she called her sister, got her voicemail, left her a message.

next she tried her son. he answered, but hadn’t heard anything. “hey mom, i’m always the last to know. they don’t even invite me to christmas until the same day.” they laughed. she promised to let him know if she heard anything.

she called the other brother. he answered. “i haven’t heard anything, so everyone must be fine.” sigh of relief. if he didn’t know, yes, everyone was okay. and the sister texted back. she hadn’t heard anything contrary, either.

this was puzzling. dad calls on a day not her birthday, doesn’t leave a message and no one is dead. something was at work. she could feel it.

the next morning, her father called her back, “hey, ******, i saw you called last night.”

“yes, i called because i saw you called me. you only ever call on my birthday, so i thought someone died. i was frantically calling my siblings, mother and son to be sure everyone was good!” he laughed, she laughed.

then he asked her the question she wanted to hear. “so, what are you up to, what are you doing? bam. there they were, the open-ended questions that gave her permission to share pieces of her life with the man she knew as her earthly father.

she answered him with confidence and gusto, pleasure and delight. as she shared the details of her life, she heard how full it was, how rich she was in experience, deep friendships, location and above all, fulfillment in her relationship with father god. he was the one who made it all work.

her dad’s initial call? it was a pocket dial. but not really. it was really a set up to answer her prayer and she knew it.

when they were ready to end the call, for the first time ever, she blessed him with words he had never heard before, “i bless you and i love you, dad.” “i love you, too,” came his response. she encouraged him. “stay in touch. you can call on more than one day of the year.” she knew she’d have to be the one to call, and that was okay.

she had released him from expectations he could never meet. father god would be what she needed when others simply could not. and it was all right.

in her heart, the family name became honorable once again. she took back her maiden name, and it was good.

(copyright © 2017 jane doe)

 

 

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did it get better?

“did it get better after you went back?” the question hit her in the past and right between the eyes.

she answered him without missing a beat. it was an easy question to answer, even in telling the truth.

“no, it did not get better. it got quite a lot worse before it got better, train wreck that i was at the time.”

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photo credit: pixabay

she recalled fond memories, the beach, the mountains, his red porsche, other foggy details. he had been a true friend.

thirty-some years earlier, they’d met at a 7-eleven in pacific beach in san diego. he took her under his wing and looked out for her when her life had fallen apart to an even larger degree. this time, it was just further away from home.

the tipping point had been her parents’ divorce. when that last bubble burst, she ran fast and far, driving across the country on her own at the age of nineteen.

he’d spent time and energy tracking her down the day before, finally sending an email to her boss with her name in the subject line. when the boss asked if she knew so and so, she stopped breathing for a minute. “what?!?!” he asked her again. “what?!? wait. you have an email from so and so asking about me? how did he get your email address?’ he’d played detective on the internet to get a message to her.

she’d last tried to contact him in 2014, but they never really connected then. she knew he was on the east coast now. funny. she was back on the west coast.

she found his profile on facebook. in one moment, she sent him a friend request, and two minutes later, she’d messaged him to call her.

playing detective herself, a google search yielded several photos of him from 2006. he was older, but he still looked great. she was older, too.

two hours later, she was fielding a customer’s question and he called. as her cell phone rang, she saw the area code and knew it was him. she told the customer she’d call him back. answering the incoming call, she almost screeched his name as she pushed the answer button. “david, is it you?!?!?”

for twenty minutes, they played catch up, asking each other questions, laughing, talking. it was delightful conversation, one that kept her smiling long after they ended the call.

the drive home from work was a photo montage in living color, time spent reflecting on what her life had been when he befriended her. she knew she wouldn’t have lived to tell if he hadn’t shown up at the 7-eleven that day.

jesus gave her the whole slide show. as she watched, she shook her head and let out a low whistle. oh, my goodness. he had been a gift of stability when she’d had none.

she saw more redemption in that 6-month time frame than she’d been aware of before. healed fragments returned to her soul, happy to be home again.

holy spirit whispered, ‘ to whom much is given, much is required.’ she nodded, smiling.  she knew about much being required. it was okay, even welcome.

that jesus, he just never stopped looking out for her.

in that tumultuous season, he’d sent help in the form of a handsome, kind italian man with a big heart, an easy laugh and a passion for soccer.

she let the tears of gratitude join her smile. she was so thankful.

thank you, david.

(copyright 2017 jane doe)

grief, healing and rest

life changed after the big move.

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photo credit: jane doe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she now lived with a younger married couple.

she recalled meeting them, visiting for the first time. she heard holy spirit say, ‘family,’ softly to her. it was how she knew she belonged with them. it was confirmation.

the woman became a sister and a daughter. the man became a son, a brother, a protector. she had missed growing up with her siblings. these relationships provided restoration and fulfillment of those longings and desires.

papa. he was good to her again. over and over. always. forever.

she had long talks with papa about him after the big move. in the first conversation, he asked her to wait for him one year. he gave her choices and options. they reasoned together. she agreed to wait one year.

two months later, papa spoke again on the same topic.

she was at her desk when she heard his voice.

“i am no longer asking you to wait for him.

you have waited long enough.

i want you to move forward. 

i will restore.”

his words stunned her as she sat up straight.

she took a breath and a minute to process his words.

his voice was strong, tender, purposeful, fatherly.

his direction came as a surprise. but papa knew the end from the beginning.

the cord had been cut.

the processing began soon afterward. grief, anger, shock, betrayal, sorrow.

sometimes the deep longing to hold his hand again would unravel her.

she blessed him. she prayed for him when he came to mind.

papa had movies for her to watch. they helped her process emotions, to see beyond, to see glimpses of what he would do for her.

he encouraged her, sometimes saying, “great is your reward, child.”

she believed him. she had been faithful and obedient.

she began to sleep again. she learned to breathe again.

she soaked in worship music and healing frequencies at night as she slept.

sweet praise and rest brought healing.

jesus beckoned her to the beach. it was time to meet again. she went.

the touch of the sand under her feet brought more healing and balance to her body.

she worshipped as she walked, singing into the wind at the top of her lungs.

then he was there. suddenly. he’s like that. suddenly. it took her breath away.

the lion spoke.

“it was harder for you to let go because you didn’t really trust that i loved him, that i had him. but i want you to know this: i love my son more than you love your husband.

you can trust this. you can open your hands all the way and release him to me.”

she looked up in the sky. waves washed over her feet. the sand was cool.

She opened her hands and spoke the words out loud. she let him go.

then she drew an imaginary line in front of her.

with great joy and intentionality, she stepped over it.

there would be no more sorrow over what was, over what might have been.

her bright future beckoned.

she answered.

‘yes, lord.’

(copyright 2016 jane doe)