I imagine the people I grew up around down here in the Buckle of the Bible belt worry about their child calling to say they are gay or that they got a tattoo of Satan on the right side of their neck where there is no way to cover it, even for the best of job interview opportunities. I worry about those things too, but not because I think my children will end up burning in hell, but because I think they will experience a judgment hell here on earth by those who think they know what is good and wholesome and what is bad and worthy of an eternity in the pits of fire.
I received a postcard the other day. I was excited. I thought a friend had visited a cool and exotic place and had thought of me while there.
Then I read it.
My name is Brent* and we don’t know each other. I have been praying for you morning and evening for the last 30 days.
May the peace and goodness of the Lord be with you and all you love.
Brent (Awaken Nashville)
At first, it confused me. Then a strange “invaded” sort of feeling came over me, not unlike I’ve experienced when something of mine has been stolen. That invaded feeling turned into anger.
I hate that I feel irritated and notice that the pictures hang crooked in my office and in my home. I wait in line at the grocery feeling none of the “goodness” of buying organic foods that others seem to be secretly smiling about. I listen to a righteous diatribe about why “my smoking is not hurting anyone but myself” and I think of that person’s children, and parents, and spouse and friends.
I am judging, critical and negative.
I often feared drowning in a flood as a child because we lived near the river. It was a conclusion I came to all by my nine-year-old self that I never checked out with the many adults in my life.
My father worked two jobs and was very seldom home. He seemed very far away and unavailable. But somehow I created the fantasy that since he was in the Navy; he could swim and would save us if and when the flood came. I remember falling soundly back to sleep in this far away fantasy of this non-present rescuer.
I was deeply moved when reading the following passage in the book Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen (paraphrased):
When children are judged, criticized and reshaped into what is wanted rather than supported, not allowed to develop naturally into who they are, they “form spores” and wall the unloved parts of themselves away.