It is interesting that I started to write this post before I posted my previous one ("Slippery Slope of Self-Condemnation"), but something stopped me mid-writing. Then, following the event that prompted the previous post, I lost my interest in finishing this one. It was not until I shared parts of this current post with my grandmother, that I felt I should go back to this. And now that I am thinking about what I want to write, I realize how much I need this in order to recover from the slippery slope of my self-condemnation. Yeah . . . it's a God thing.
My mother passed along a book to me about a month ago. The book, Lesson's From Life's Mirror: A Personal Journey of Redemption by Marlene June Eissens, was used for a women's small group that she attended while I was undergoing treatment for my eating disorder. She finally passed the book down to me, feeling that it was time for me to go through it myself. Although the story is Marlene's personal story, it is largely applicable to me--probably more so than to my mother. After Marlene shares a part of her story, the chapter ends with self-reflective questions. What is so intriguing to me is that I can see what my mother answered years ago. Now I am following Marlene's journey, glimpsing into that of my mother's, and critically living my own--all at the same time.
At the end of the most recent chapter, the following exercise is proposed: When you meet God face-to-face, what do you think you'll talk about? Pretend that you are talking with him face-to-face, write down that conversation.
I wrote my own response before reading my mother's; however, I want to share hers first. (And, yes, I did receive permission from her to share this.)
"God will open his arms wide to embrace me. He'll say, Welcome--now you can finally relax and let my peace and joy wash over you. Why couldn't you trust me for everything? You shed so many unnecessary tears.
My response: I thought you were taking care of the big stuff and I needed to do the small. I wanted you to find me faithful and obedient. I tried to earn your love. I missed out on so much joy. Why couldn't I focus on being your love to those around me? That's what you wanted and kept reminding me."
Without reading this response of my mother's, I recorded my own conversation with God.
Me: What the heck, God!
Me: What the heck? I don't get it.
God: You don't have to.
Me: But I want to.
God: I won't let you.
God: Because that is not your job!
God: You are NOT God!
*God reaches out and pulls me into an embrace. At first I just stand there, stubbornly rigid. Then I slowly tuck myself into his arms. Eventually, tears start to fall down my face.*
Me: Hi, Daddy.
God: Hi, Sweetie.
Me: I'm so sorry.
God: Shhhh *He pulls my head back into His chest.* It's okay.
Needless to say, when I first read my mother's I was more than a little shocked. Actually, I am pretty sure I felt guilty. My mother seemed so reverent and loving towards God, and here I was angrily yelling at Him and demanding answers.
And yet I had to pause:
My mother and I have a different relationship with God.
When I dwelled upon this, I actually felt joyful. You see, for most of my formative years, I fed off of my mother's faith. I did not have a faith of my own. I thought my mother's faith was my faith. (The common joke is that we were attached at the hip.)
So this striking difference proves to me that I truly have a faith of my own. My relationship with God looks nothing like my mother's relationship with Him.
And that is okay!
Could you imagine if I had the same relationship with her husband as she did?! (This would be my step-father rather than my biological father--but still--) That would be gross! And wrong on so many levels!!
Well, having a relationship with God is the same way. I am not supposed to have an identical relationship with God that my mother has. Or my boyfriend has. Or my father has. Or my employer has. Or my pastor has. Or my friend has. No. No. No.
My relationship with Him is unique.
And--in some ways--it gives me reassurance that my relationship with Him is real.