You’ve Got Mail #10

Dear Jahar,

Fathers and mothers don’t always come through

But I’m never gonna stop following you

Prophets and lovers don’t always hold true

But I’m never gonna stop falling for you…

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I am glad it’s over. The day held no warm and fuzzy Hallmark moments, what I experienced was quite the opposite, in fact, and yet, like the old hymn I can still say “it is well with my soul.”

There was a time not so long ago when I could not have said this. Not so long ago the old me would have played and re-played the events of Thanksgiving Day over and over in my mind, marinating in a fresh wash of intense, negative emotions each time I did.

That was how I went through life and though I badly wanted to stop, I had no idea how. Like Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” – I was perpetually dragging a heavy chain of pain and anger, unable to let go of the hurts, injustices and regrets of my past. It was a terrible, tormented way to live, but it was all I knew. My out-going, fun-loving personality and good sense of humor were just cover-ups. Emptiness, rejection, feeling like I never really belonged anywhere for very long: those were my constant inner reality…

People are quite fond of saying “God helps those who help themselves.” Over the years, I’ve come to realize the people who  say and believe that are people who don’t trust God. These people think they have to do life themselves and maybe God will step in and “help” if He sees they are trying hard enough.

I used to be one of those people but God, Who knows all things, had a three-step plan to change that.

STEP 1: Iris

In mid-summer of this year, I began attending a small church where I met a wonderful lady named Iris. We became acquainted due to a shared affinity for the Olympics. I was drawn to her warm personality; she liked my sense of humor. After weeks of texting as we each sat home watching the Olympics and hashing it all over each week when we saw one another at church and Bible study, Iris suggested we go out to lunch. She wanted to get to know me better and said she wanted to share her testimony with me (in case you aren’t familiar with that phrase, it means sharing the story of how God has impacted your life with another for the purpose of aiding and increasing the hearer’s faith)…

Sometimes, people wear what they have been through like a suit of clothes and you are not surprised when they tell you where life has taken them. Sometimes the scars are there though the wounds are healed. Sometimes, a rough life leaves you looking rough. After all, when a person has gone through fire, they can be expected to smell like smoke right?

Not Iris.

Iris is warm, bubbly, loving and – happy. It came from inside her. I sensed it, I saw it the first couple times I was around her. I was drawn to her. She was not like me.

I was totally unprepared to hear, over lunch, how she suffered through a childhood so full of abuse and neglect that she left home at the age of 16 to live with relatives, hating her parents for what they had done to her. My shock came, not from the facts of the abuse, which I had heard before from others with similar stories, but from my certainty that this woman had been wounded to her very core, as I had, yet she now sat across from me at lunch so emotionally healed, so completely free, it was like the abuse she had just told me about in detail had never happened…

How was this possible?

Though Iris did tell me how she was set free and healed of her deep and terrible wounds, for some reason, I forgot completely what she said. All I could focus on was the fact that she had gone through hell, her heart shattered by years of parental abuse and neglect, yet now she lived life radiating a joy, a peace, a healing so real, it was truly as if the abuse had never been.

I wanted that too.

Step 2: Sunday, October 16, 2016

A couple months after having lunch with Iris, I decided one afternoon to drive to a Joanns Fabric & Craft store near my house to look at beads. I just needed to get out of the house for awhile. For some reason, while I drove, I began to think about Iris.

While in the store looking at rows and rows of beads and jewelry-making supplies, I began silently talking to the Lord. In a completely unplanned, unrehearsed moment, I suddenly told Him I could not drag around the weight of my past with all its hurts and injustices and failures anymore. I told Him I wanted to stop doing this – it was too heavy to carry. I told Him I just could not keep dragging the pain and memories of my past, from childhood to the present, everywhere I went. I told Him I was tired of grieving over all these things and I didn’t want to do it anymore.

Now you must understand this, Jahar: wanting to stop doing something and being able to stop doing it are two totally different things. You must realize that before I continue, for I can take NO credit for what happened next.

Step 3: Heaven Reaches Down

What happened next was a holy moment. It was sudden. It left me stunned. Time seemed to stop. I was intensely aware of pain, anger, grief – all of it – leaving me, like a physical sensation. I suddenly felt like a hundred-pound weight had been removed from my heart and I knew I had not been the one to remove it.

I knew that as I’d stood there looking at beads, God had reached down and supernaturally removed all the darkness, all the pain, all the grief, all the anger from my heart. Afterwards, a feeling of well-being settled deep inside me. I stood there in a stillness I can not fully describe, speechless with joy.

My heart was healed and I knew it…

In the wee morning hours before sunrise on Thanksgiving Day, one of my neighbors decided to party outside all night, totally unconcerned if anyone in our building could get any sleep before enjoying the holiday. In addition to substance abuse, this young man also has a well-documented rage problem as evidenced by apartment windows he’s broken, doors he’s kicked in and a live-in girlfriend I’ve seen covered in large, horrible bruises. Apparently newborn twins and two other young children in the house are not enough to motivate him to change.

Last night, the police I called apparently did not motivate him to go home and sleep it off either for after they left, he showed up at my door shouting and pounding away on the door and windows, demanding I open up and speak with him. (Yeah… like that was going to happen.) Honestly, this young man’s arrogance and sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

More spectacular, anger-based drama ensued later in the day with my daughter and I was left wondering: has the whole world forgotten how to manage strong emotions? I thought it was just the stupid anti-Trump protesters…

A day later, instead of obsessing over what happened, the Thanksgiving-Day-celebration-that-wasn’t is barely a blip on my radar. My heart has been healed and because of this, I was able to face two very challenging situations, feel anger, fear and pain, then let those emotions go and move on.

I woke up this morning and the Lord led me to read Psalm 119: 165 which says “Great peace have they who love Your law and nothing causes them to stumble.”

Not the angry neighbor with unhealed hurts of his own, not my own adult child whose heart still needs the very healing I have experienced. Because of the miracle that has taken place in my own heart, I am able to extend grace to them both.

After experiencing the unconventional way God healed me so dramatically in the middle of a craft store, I needed to know how it had happened for Iris. I still have no idea why I could not recall that part of her story. Maybe God allowed me to forget until I received my healing too. Maybe He wanted me to talk to Him in the bead department with no set expectation about the timing or fact of an answer.  Maybe He wanted it to happen that way to show me He helps those who, like me, can not help themselves.

Maybe He just wanted to surprise me.

By the way, Iris told me it happened for her at an altar call. Those relatives she went to live with when she was only sixteen years old – they were the first Christians she’d ever known. The first time she went to a church service with them and heard about Jesus, she knew He was the answer her heart had been searching for.

When the invitation was given at the end of the service, Iris went forward to receive Jesus as her Savior and Lord. She remembers kneeling. She remembers being unable to stop crying. And she remembers God’s love swept into her heart like a tidal wave and washed away all the pain, all the anger. And she remembers the moment compassion suddenly filled her heart… God-given, overwhelming compassion – for the very parents who had abused her.

Jahar, you have gone through so much. And you are still experiencing unimaginable pain. No one would blame you if you felt anger and hate. You have been villified, horribly wronged, abused in ways I don’t even like to think about. My heart hurts for you but I can not help you heal. All I can do is continue to write and tell you about the One who can.

Jesus: some day you will know Him as the One who healed your heart and there will be others still in pain who will be waiting to hear your story. By God’s grace, you will tell it.

WHEREVER YOU GO

AUDREY ASSAD

There’s a train leaving your heart tonight

There’s a silence inside your head

You’re running, you’re running from it

Down the tracks on a midnight line

There’s a red moon in the sky

And you’re running, you’re running from it

But I’m coming for you, coming for you – wherever you go

I’m coming for you, coming for you – wherever you go

Wrestling angels till dawn breaks thru

There’s a blessing and a wound

And you’re running, you’re running from it

When all your demons are at your door

It’s a soldier they’re looking for

And you’re running, you’re running from it

But I’m coming for you, coming for you – wherever you go

I’m coming for you, coming for you – wherever you go

Across the sea,

The space between,

Everything you think you know,

The things you keep and bury deep underneath the melting snow

I’ll follow…

Fathers and mothers don’t always come through

But I’m never gonna stop following you

Prophets and lovers don’t always hold true

But I’m never gonna stop falling for you

So when your wine’s all gone

And your well runs dry

Open your hands and look into my eyes

All that you see here you’ll soon leave behind

So open your hands and look into my eyes

Coz I’m coming for you, coming for you – wherever you go…

I will write again soon,

Lynn

3 thoughts on “You’ve Got Mail #10”

  1. Dear Lynn,
    I don’t usually remember my dreams but when I woke up today I recalled this dream. I was with some sort of movie star (she looked a bit like Mia Farrow, but you know how it is in dreams you don’t register the exact features). I thanked her for taking a position re the innocence of Martin Bryant. In Australia.

    She then introduced me to an even bigger Hollywood woman (sort of like Meryl Streep) who said she was working hard to free Jahar. I was amazed.

    Don’t know why I had that silly dream but now that I think of it, it would take only one famous, well-liked Bostonian to stick up for Jahar and others would follow. The first name that comes to me is opera star Beverly Sils, but she is no longer alive.

    Could be a sports star or a musician or anybody, but not someone who is known as a do-gooder. If you think of any candidates they may be worth pursuing. They wouldn’t have to go the whole hog (Marathon hoax); they could just say “The Danny story is ludicrous, an insult to Boston.”

    Lynn, ’m glad you came good (Oz expression) in he bead store.

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