"When one consistently chooses cyberspace over a holy space -- life becomes a hollow place."
Addiction is a scary thing -- even if it's just running to your laptop. Yeah, even that can hurt those around you.
It was an awful first few days as I came to terms that every red light had become an opportunity to check my phone. And reading blogs had become my procrastination tool. And Facebook had become my answer to an aching disconnectedness. Truth is hard to swallow sometimes -- especially if you're looking in the mirror when you find it.
I was consistently "choosing cyberspace". And life, well, it had become "a hollow place". So hollow I could feel the empty just about all day.
During the break, I missed blogging more than anything, for writing has become one of God's greatest gifts to me. It heals and confounds and comforts and challenges me all at once. And I sort of need that -- the over-thinker in this fragmented world.
It's good to be back. Back and a bit healthier, that is.
And because I've spent little time writing the past few weeks, I've decided to republish last year's Mother's Day post. It really is an amazing story written into my mom's life fifty years ago. And because history is real, I guess it's part of my story, too. The ever-unfolding, multi-generational story.
Whether you're infertile or you're mom to a whole houseful of children or you're somewhere in between, this post is for you. That is unless your life fits perfectly into a little box tied with a gorgeous bow. So, ummm, yeah, this post is for all of you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you! To those of you who are mothers… to those who are daughters… to those who are orphans…
The older I get, the more I try to live in authentic community, and the more I realize everyone’s story – everyone’s - is written with some pain. Every family has baggage. Every. family. has. wounds.
Early on in our parenting, I told my husband through tears, “I’m just so scared of screwing up our children. I’m so scared of wounding them by my sin.”
“Christan,” he said unapologetically , “you will wound our kids. Get over it. And their wounds will make them run faster to Jesus.”
I can’t tell you the freedom his statement has given me. The sin of the world – even their own mother’s brokenness – will show my kids that nothing can satisfy, nothing can heal, except their Redeemer. And really, that’s the ultimate goal in rearing our children – to have a son and daughter who are crazy about their Rescuer.
So today – Mother’s Day – I’ve asked my mom to share something she wrote long ago reflecting on when she was sixteen years old. It was my favorite of her stories she told me as a child. It’s still one of my favorites in our family history.
RED AND WHITE CARNATIONS by Barbara Benedict Hibschman
I hated being in church alone. This was the first Mother’s Day since Grandmother passed away last January. I dreaded going to church and seeing families sitting together with their moms. I hated to admit to myself and others that my mother left, and my parents are divorced.
I never talked much about it, but I realized everyone in the church knew more about it than I did.
“Maybe I should have stayed home,” I said to myself as I walked up the church steps.
“Good morning, and happy Mother’s Day,” Mrs. Spence said, greeting the churchgoers in the lobby. “Please take a red carnation if your mother is living and a white one if she has passed on,” she instructed.
I must have stood in front of the large basket of flowers for several minutes. I couldn’t decide which one to take.
My real mother is alive but dead to me, I reasoned. She left when I was 2 years old, and I’ve only seen her twice in all my 16 years.
The first time my mother showed up was two years ago at my brother’s high school graduation. Mrs. Davis, a teacher, came up to me at the ceremony and introduced her, “Barbara,” she said, “This is your mother.”
“My mother!” I snapped. “What is she doing here?”
Behind Mrs. Davis stood a short, brown-haired woman with a warm smile.
“Hi, Barbara. You’ve turned out to be quite a young lady,” she said.
“Hello,” I managed to respond. She looked at me and waited for me to say something else. I didn’t know what to say or do. The seconds seemed like hours. I just stood there and looked at her.
Do I look like her? I wondered. Janice, one of my classmates, rescued me from the awkward moment by asking me to meet some friends on the stage to have our picture taken. I excused myself and made sure I got lost in the crowd.
The second and last time I saw my mother was at Grandmother’s funeral. She tried to talk to me then, but I just looked down. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone.
I have a mental image of what my mother looks like, but no memories of anything we did together. To call her “Mother” seems strange.
I really should take a white carnation, I rationalized, still standing in front of the flower basket. Grandmother had been the real mother to me. She had been there when I needed to talk. She had taken care of me, gone shopping with me and seen to it that I did my homework. She had taught me the art of homemaking. She had instructed me in cooking and baking the Hungarian way.
I have fond memories of Grandmother sitting at her quilting frame and singing hymns in her native tongue. I would listen to her stories of how she immigrated to America and how God kept her safe. She would tell me how God provided for her needs and caution, “Use wisely what God gives you. If you pray for your daily bread, don’t waste it.”
Looking back, I know that her faith and the time she spent with me created influences that were like the patchwork quilts she made. There were many fragmented pieces, but when sewn together they formed a complete pattern. The dominant pieces were love, joined together by threads of laughter and tears.
I pulled a white carnation from the basket and took a seat in the back pew. The organist began the prelude, and quietness settled over the congregation. I sat clutching the white carnation while my heart held tightly to the past.
Grief surfaced again, and I saw nothing promising in my future. Most of the people around me knew that my real mother was alive. Do they understand why I took a white carnation? Does God understand that I’m hurting?
The choir began to take their seats. The organist played softly. I raised my eyes and focused on the large wooden cross behind the choir loft.
“Oh, Jesus, You do understand, don’t You?” I prayed. “You were hurt. You were rejected by those You loved. Yet You chose to forgive them. Help me to do the same. If I meet my mother again, help me to be loving. Thank You that You are always near, and that You promise never to leave. Thank You for eternal life, and that I will see Grandmother again. Amen.”
The organist continued to play as the pastor took his seat behind the pulpit. I looked back in the lobby and focused on the basket of flowers. Quickly, but quietly, I walked back to the flower arrangement to put the white carnation back. I wanted to prove to God – and myself – that I was willing to deal with the past and the future.
All the red carnations were taken, but my eye caught a glimpse of one red and white carnation lying on the table. Someone probably took it out of the basket because it was neither all red nor all white.
I thought, “God does understand my feelings! The florist didn’t make a mistake. This carnation is the one that is just right for me on this Mother’s Day! I do have a mother who is alive and needs my forgiveness. Grandmother Benedict is gone for now, but is alive spiritually and in my memories.”
I took the red and white carnation back to my seat, and entered into the worship of the Lord.I’ve never met my maternal grandmother, but I will someday. During her journey, God drew her to himself, and she gave her heart to Him. Someday in Heaven I’ll ask her a ton of questions. But maybe not. Our Rescuer, the Healer of all the wounds families inflict on each other, will be there. And I may just need to be with Him.