Woman Be Restored
Spending my day at the Woman Be Restored Conference at Times Square Church. This year it started with a two hour morning break out session. I chose the Relationship Restoration breakout teaching. I missed most of the first hour – I thought there would be a warm of singing before we got into the meat of the conference. My thinking was wrong. So was my attitude. I walked in on the teaching saying that our ability to forgive is based on our capacity to forgive. My listening walls immediately went up and I typed in my notes, “capacity vs. understanding.” Meaning we have the capacity to do everything God instructs us to do, we are limited only by our understanding of who God Is and the Power He has to Perform in our life. We have to understand that saying “yes” and “amen” to God will take us places (internally and externally, spiritually and physically) we can’t even imagine or envision.
While my attitude was busy saying no to the teaching in the room by countering the points with my own, God broke in with a whisper, “Thank you for Peewee.”
Before I know it, I’m searching my phone for this post I wrote in October 2016. I shook my head slightly on the negative even as my hand was going in the air for permission to speak.
My hand played cat and mouse with the air several times before I was called on. I ended up being the last to speak before we closed the meeting in prayer. I think it was fitting to close on a cry of thanksgiving. I started by stating that forgiveness is an expression of love and I offered it to my dad, Peewee, as an offering of love for my deceased mother who loved him to her death. Forgiveness is a process and many people will try to dictate or force their interpretations on you about their idea of what forgiveness looks, feels or sounds like. Then I read the paragraph beginning with “So on to now.”
October 2, 2016
Thank You for Peewee.
My dad has been coming to mind strongly and often lately.
I wrote a piece about him a few years ago as a submission for a father/daughter project. Some time after his death, I had a series of dreams about him, disturbing dreams actually. Dreams where I was locked up and still a sexual object for him. The dreams didn’t stop until I forcibly removed myself from the home he had me locked up in and blew the home up from a helicopter with a rocket launcher.
I awoke from that final dream feeling quite bad ass and liberated.
Despite the effort I made following his release from prison to build a father/daughter relationship with him, most of my thoughts of him are devoid of fondness. My greatest sadness about him is that there is no longer any opportunity to reconcile with him again. Our relationship blew up after my brother died in 2007 because of Peewee’s decision to honor his own brother at my brother’s funeral. His brother had also sexually violated me in my youth. My brother was not fond of him. And even if they had been in communication as Peewee’s sister recently tried to tell me, Antione would not have approved of the way his sister’s rapist was given a place of honor to speak through a relative of his love for his nephew at his funeral as his unprepared sister realized too late what was going on.
Peewee and I fell out over that sneak attack. What I snapped at him outside the funeral home as we walked out was, “Even now, with the death of your son, you chose not to put your children before your brother and sister. When will you put us first?” Although he had no rights of fatherhood, I had already named him as legal next of kin for my brother in order to help with funeral preparations until I was able to arrive in Gary. I insisted in the street the day of my brother’s funeral that he put his grandchildren first and sign the paperwork to have my brother’s cremated ashes sent to his daughters. He agreed and we walked back into the funeral home to complete the paper work. After that I told him he and I were done.
He died three years later. To my knowledge he made no effort to mend our breach. When he knew he was dying he called his brother and sister. Even on his deathbed he didn’t ask for me. I saw that as a choice… as in he chose who he wanted to see and be with in the end. As in, he never did get around to putting his children first – before his brother and sister.
And for that ending, my thoughts of him are often filled with resentment and a deep sense of rejection. Wow. I hadn’t been able to follow my thoughts through to this revelation before. His sister and perhaps others thought that my feelings towards Peewee were based on his sexual abuse of me in my youth. When she finally spoke to me about it a few years ago, I told her what I shared here and added that he had been forgiven long ago for his abusive violation of me.
So on to now. I’m sitting in the sanctuary streaming silent tears. During service, after a phenomenal message on ethics, integrity, loyalty and righteousness by Elder Jerry Hampton, I prayed during the singing of “You Are My Strength.” I began crying and thanking God for everything He has done for me. For my humbling and my affliction. “Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for responding! Thank you for the pastor. Thank You for this.” The word was phenomenal during that service and during the morning service also – the message flowed through both. The song took me to another level. “Thank you for keeping me. Thank you for everything You are in me. Thank you for forming me into the woman I am and for everything you’re doing to make me the woman I am becoming.” And before I knew what was coming up from the deep well of my soul, these words passed my lips, “Thank you for Peewee!” Perhaps I stunned myself for a millisecond, but almost immediately I affirmed my thanksgiving by repeating my thanks twice more. “Thank You for Peewee, Father! Thank you for Peewee.”
Perhaps this is the reconciliation my spirit, body and life needed: Acknowledgement that even Peewee has been a blessing to my life.
I then gave thanks for Anthony, the long forgiven uncle I want nothing to do with. I gave thanks for their sister who has a special place in my heart but holds none of my trust. I gave thanks for my mother who is always a blessing in my sight. I gave thanks for all the family God has blessed me with who has repeatedly and consistently rejected me or mocked me. They have all been my training ground. The rod of my affliction. Without them what would I know or understand of the true darkness of the human spirit? And by contrast, what would I appreciate in the pure light of God’s grace and mercy and redemptive powers?
Praise God. Thank You Father. Thank You Jesus. Thank You Holy Spirit.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Recent thoughts re Peewee
I’m packing up my New York City apartment in anticipation of a cross country move. One medium size box is nearly full with stationery. I paused when I saw that.
The things I enjoy most in life were introduced to me my Peewee. My first box of stationery was powdery pink parchment he gave me for Christmas when I was 11 or so. He put together my first bike and let me help then took me outside to teach me how to ride. one of my remaining goals is to do long distance cycling across many different terrains. My live if sci-fi comes from watching Star Trek with him. it’s amazing to me that these are the memories that are dominating more and more as time passes.
Read more about the song in “A Tale of Two Couples: Lead Me at a Glance”
From The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness (Available January 2011)
And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty (power) of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed (securely), for he will be highly honored around the world. ~ Micah 5:4 (NLT)
The week of Thanksgiving brought several personal revelations to me through the resurfacing of a dormant family relationship. Then over Thanksgiving weekend, I had a series of dreams that expanded on those revelations.
The most vivid dream in the series involved a man (not a relative). In each scene the man appeared in, he was standing tall with firmly planted feet and a broad welcoming smile. Perched on his left hip, like an attachment, was a big baby boy who looked to be three or four years old. He was a beautiful boy with bright alert eyes – piercing, really – and a much older mischievous expression. Physically, the toddler didn’t resemble the man at all, yet there was an element of sameness and familiarity.
The man greeted me and indicated in the conversation that the toddler was one and a half years old. I commented that the baby boy was more than twice the size of the average toddler his age. Even as I said that, I was reaching over to hug and kiss the baby/toddler. The man’s face was glowing with joy when I stepped back to face him. He then embraced me. End dream sequence.
Upon waking, I was confused about elements of the dream. Primarily, who was the big baby/toddler boy? As I mentally walked back through the dream, I discarded the thought of the boy being the man’s son or other relative, and concluded the baby/toddler was the man himself, representing a part of the man that was less mature in some areas, even though he looked over-developed. Mostly, the baby/toddler seemed to represent a part of the man that was extremely vulnerable, even though he appeared to ooze mischief, knowledge, awareness and confidence.
What happened in the dream to inspire this retelling?
The man presented his vulnerabilities to me and I embraced them (symbolized by me hugging and kissing the baby/toddler). The joy the man received from that acceptance lead to his willingness to accept me (symbolized by him embracing me).
The focus scripture in service this week came from Micah 5:1-6. Verse 4 (He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD) stood out to me for two reasons: 1) The man’s solid stance in my dream brought to mind security and strength 2) I’ve been listening to Santus Real’s song, Lead Me. The lyrics are a beautiful blend of a man’s strength and vulnerability through his multiple roles and responsibilities. The refrain is written from a wife and child’s perspective:
“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?
Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”
The song is a prayer for God to lead the man – the husband, the father – to be the strength of his family – the provider, comforter and defender – through God’s grace and power. It’s a moving prayer of a man laying bare his uncertainties and asking for the strength to love his family through his presence and with the best offerings of his life.
It’s such a vulnerable plea, but there’s so much power in it.
The convergence of all these elements had me analyzing aspects of my life. Specifically, the lack of strong hands in my life and the fact that there has never been anyone (father or other) standing or fighting for me. And I marveled that my hunger for love had turned into such a state of starvation that I’ve ceased to feel. Wonder of wonders… how different would my life be had I been blessed with a father who lead rather than destroyed?
It all rolls up to love. The best expression, the most lasting impression of love that we will receive in this life is through our father, mother, and spouse (husband or wife). If they aren’t led by the spirit of God, His love for us will not be experienced through them and we could remain hungry for love, chasing useless things in a lonely life because we have no idea how to be love or how to receive love.
Fortunately, these sad, lonely low points of neglect and uncertainty puts us in a special space for grace. I thank God for my vulnerabilities and my willingness to accept and embrace them. The more vulnerable I am, the stronger God’s presence in my life becomes.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10