It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Convicting Innocence...

I began this post close to the Easter holiday. I wish I would have posted it. This was the beginning of what grew into a 6 week funk for me and had I posted this, it would have been in my face to remind me of what I needed to remember for the last several weeks. I rarely like to come to terms with my disappointments, mostly because I don't like to admit I have them. After all, look at my life... I live in America to begin with and the rest is just icing on the cake. Of course the most delicious of all is that I've been adopted by the King so who could look at any part of a life like that and see any disappointments? And yet, I'm guilty of it and find myself using that term to describe circumstances in my life lately far too often. Maybe that word, disappointment, should be stricken from my vocabulary as another word is that you will read about here:

I've gained a new understanding about what Jesus said to the rich man when he wanted to go back to earth to warn his siblings about hell. .... I say that because I tried to clear my name the other day and it was a big mistake. I generally don't believe in defending myself because I've felt for many years that my history, my behavior, my words should be all the defense that I need. I even think this way about my kids. Last year Sam was accused of defacing property. I about fell out of my chair laughing. The truth is that had he been accused of kissing a girl I'd have totally believed that - but defacing property, come on! There is no way. I know what my kids are capable of. I am honest about the faults of my children and have rarely if ever shouted "Not my kid!" but I know what their issues are and defacing property is not one of Sam's.

I should have followed my own rules. When I break my own rules I shouldn't be surprised by how things fall apart. I had just had enough of being some one's scapegoat and felt that there was a chance that this particular issue could have damaged my reputation and possibly affected what some people thought of MJF as well. But I learned some valuable lessons from this experience and had other truths validated:

The biggest thing I learned is that ultimately I have to trust God to reveal truth to other people. He will orchestrate situations that cause the guilty to get punished. He promised that in His word and I don't need to doubt it now. I only get in His way and it's my job to just step back and watch.

I realized that in the end, those who I care about the most will either not believe what they hear or they will come to me with questions. Even I am smart enough to realize when people are being falsely accused. I've often said to others "That doesn't sound like something "?" would say or do. I wonder if your facts are wrong?" If I think that why wouldn't others think that as well regarding me? Once again I have to trust God to work in the hearts and minds of my friends.

As I wrote this I realized that this is a story of Christianity in a small way. I can in no way believe that I have been persecuted and treated in the same wretched way that Christ was but we are, at this time, celebrating the crucifixion of an innocent man... an innocent God/man. He always did the right thing - always. He rarely defended Himself but just spoke truth about who He was and who God was. In the end, He trusted His Father through the Holy Spirit and His friends to tell others about Him so the TRUTH could vindicate Him and so other's would believe in Him. It's times like these that bring me comfort and make me realize that Christ is not unaware of my negative experiences and that He can turn those into positive ones even if it's just by teaching me a lesson. It also reminds me why I hate the word FAIR and why I don't allow my kids to use that word and why I need to stop allowing that word even in my head. The punishment of the innocent is never fair but His definition is probably a bit different than ours.

I've Become My Mother...

Yes, it's true what the title says. I can't decide if I'm glad about that or not. After all, I adore my mom. And she spent most of her adult life sacrificing in many ways for my brother Jimmy and I. I love to spend time with her when we visit and I love when she comes to my home. I get to ask her suggestions on decorating and she gets to see me in my element. We both love hanging out together even though the definition of that changes each visit. She's aging, just like I am, and our time together has to adjust to allow for that.

I remember how literally devastated I was when a few years after MJF and I were married she came to visit. I was so happy to see her I wrapped my arms around her neck and as I leaned away from her and saw her shoes and then her purse I declared "Mom, I love your shoes and purse!" and no sooner did I utter those words when I was crushed... HER tastes hadn't changed, MINE had... I felt that was the beginning of the end for me.

Once I got over that shock I vowed to be my own person. I thought about all the things I loved about how she mothered me and what I wanted to pass down to my kids. I wasn't raised in a Christian home but none-the-less there were basic truths that were part of my upbringing that my parents knew I'd appreciate when I was a parent. They were right because truth is truth regardless of your age. I have held on to some of those things especially the work ethic that both my parents instilled in Jimmy and I and I am thankful for that daily as I see how rare that is today. But there were things that I didn't want to bring into my mothering. Thinking back on my senior prom made the vast differences jump out at me.

I went to a small private school for my senior year. We had just moved to the area and my parents thought that might make my transition smoother if I was able to go there instead of the public school. They thought I'd make friends faster there which would be nice because I was a senior. And they were right, by the end of my senior year I had enough friends that I felt like having the "after-prom" party at my house was a good idea. It was at a time when many were worried about the safety of the kids from midnight until 6 am and I thought that at my house there could be some control. We had a big, beautiful home and with the furniture pushed aside on both floors it'd be a nice place to celebrate.

And celebrate we did. Without any thought my mom went to the local liquor store and got 2 kegs of beer. Of course, like a responsible parent she took everyone's car keys as they walked into the door. And then, in order to leave, they had to return to her up in her bedroom reading, to get them back - not all got them back. Honestly, I cannot believe we really did this. Not just because as a Christian it wouldn't dawn on me for one second to allow alcohol at one of my kid's parties but the fact that it was flat out illegal. I am not sure that that truth was realized by us for one minute. If it did cross her mind, she never let me in on her thoughts but I think we were totally oblivious to it.

It ended up being a good party. My mom, to this day, expresses her amazement that there wasn't a stain on the carpet anywhere when the kids left. Except I wouldn't agree. I think that a lot of kids left with stains. It was true that more kids ended up in my mom's room talking the night away with her than were anywhere else in our home, but in spite of how cool they thought my mom was - they should have realized there was something terribly wrong that night. Why didn't either of us realize that it was wrong to have that beer there?

I often ask myself that question. Almost 30 years later, that behavior haunts me. Isn't that bizarre? I wonder why I even remember that or think about it, but it's pretty true to my character to be concerned with what impression I leave on people. I have friends who think I obsess too much over that but my thinking is that the only way to get credibility is to have integrity.

So, I'm sitting in MY bedroom tonight at almost 1:30 in the morning but the difference is that I only have 4 prom-goers in my living room watching Slum-dog Millionaire and drinking Dr. Pepper and bottled water. They won't stay to watch the sun rise and as they drive home they will pray and thank God for a fun and safe night. And hopefully they will thank Him for Sam's "not so cool" mom who loved them enough to provide her home for them to hang out in and loaded them up on junk food and soda... and that is all.