Warning: Emotionally raw material to follow
Don't you just love it, someone reads a book and extols it's virtues and says everyone needs to read it...and so you grab a copy and dig in - and it is a great book, but for you (or more appropriately - me) it's a MUCH different journey. Oh, there's the revelations and the freedom, and even lots of lessons that you thought you'd already learned or waded through the process with them only to find out that recently you've reverted back to old thinking. Argh...such is the experience I've been having reading through The Shack (by William P. Young). For those of you who haven't read it yet, it is definitely worth slogging through - and it is slogging through it if you've had a childhood or life thus far where you've picked up some "survivor" skills that were necessary then but they tend to hinder and stunt your relationship with God now.
I love my parents, and I believe they did the best they knew how with what they had available to them. Neither of them grew up in households where they were loved, cherished, or doted upon, and so their deficiencies in those areas were passed on to my sister and I. I don't remember growing up with any sort of feeling of security, even though all of our physical needs were more than taken care of. We always lived in a nice home, in a good neighborhood; we didn't want for anything of subsequence. We didn't even have to walk to school or take the bus, our mom drove us or we were part of a carpool. As far as being physically provided for, we wanted for nothing. Emotionally and spiritually...ummmm, yeah that is another story.
Like I said, I don't remember feeling secure growing up. Memories of my childhood are often pervaded by a sense of not being good enough. My mom could barely keep her head above water concerning her own internal turmoil much less handle two children on top of that. She often ended up frustrated and angry with us, which would erupt in a shrill screaming rage followed by the requisite spankings. Whatever it was we had done wrong was rarely explained, and thus what we should do right to avoid such punishment was even less evident. However, part of this was due to the fact that something small might be considered small one day, and the next day it could be considered a heinous crime. It just depended on how frayed her nerves were each day. To hear her speak of our childhood, we were quite brilliantly mischievous as we apparently plotted ways to frustrate her at every turn. Yet, she will also tell you that she liked us better when we were two years old.
As for my father, he was often absent. "Family" dinners were typically mom, my sister, and I gathered around the kitchen table in front of a small TV. Dad's only interjection into this time was in the event we needed to be disciplined because we refused to eat something or were smacking as we chewed. Otherwise, he could be found in his recliner in the living room watching TV with a beer or vodka and coke. After dinner, depending on the level of complexity of the homework, he might be called upon to help us with it...although that would also lead to frustration on both ends and so I would typically muddle through it on my own rather than ask for help unless I was absolutely desperate. Once we were in bed, he would have his dinner at the coffee table in the living room in front of the TV. Sometimes, with us both being night owls, I could engage him in lengthy conversations after he'd had his dinner, but other than that communication within our family was fairly stunted.
Arguments were typically conducted with emotions running high - reasoning and rational thought were far from present unless my father was involved. Resolution was rarely reached, instead everyone went their separate ways to their separate corners of the house until a sufficient amount of time had passed, and afterward no one would bring up the argument again until it needed to be used as fuel in a similar argument.
In essence, the messages and lies I received growing up were that I wasn't good enough, wasn't worthy of being cherished, wasn't worth keeping promises for, wasn't really worth communicating with and certainly wasn't worth listening to, which doesn't make it a far leap to think if one's own family doesn't think you're worth any of that - then why should anyone else? much less God? Plus, how can I trust God who would allow those experiences and take my father from me?
Ahhhh, there's part of the rub of this book, The Shack (I know that was a really long set-up to get back to how this book has affected me) - reminding me that God didn't take my father from me, but it was a consequence of his independent choices and living in a fallen world. Also, reminding me that His love for me is more than all I ever hoped or imagined from my own parents. The rub for me lies in resting in His love and living life as someone who is loved.