Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Day My Son Came Home

Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal

Having wandered through the Forest of Seventeen for several years; having had my fill of cell phone stalking and ATT online phone bill reviewing for clues about friends and true whereabouts;

having waited up till early morning for too many nights to see a curfew-breaking boy skulk through the front door;

having prayed, fasted, pleaded with God, worried, cried and agonized over his return;

having argued with my husband about how to handle a wayward teen; having enlisted as many good people to reach out to him as I possibly could;

 I can finally say with great relief and gratitude that

my son has come home.

We have emerged from the confusing fog of the forest and can see the shimmering glow of noon day sun.

It was an ordinary summer holiday home from college, but we had an extraordinary conversation. As soon as he walked in the door, I could see it had returned. The light in his eyes had come back.

If the eyes are the window of the soul, then someone flung them wide open. The murky darkness was lifted. My son had come home; back to being himself again; back to Jesus.

The holiday was 4th of July, Independence Day. We celebrated with chicken shish-kabobs, barbecue and flag cake. There were the traditional Roman Candle wars in the side yard, goggles worn and onlooking neighbors aghast!

Before bedtime, I said good night to my son who was sitting on the guestroom couch. I noticed his eyes were welling up.  

What's wrong?

I just feel so bad for some of my friends who are so messed up.

A tear spilled down his stubbled, young man face. He wiped it away as I sat down on the floor, and put my hand on his knee. He kept talking.

Mom, I know you've forgiven me for all the times I was out there. But I have to ask you again. Please forgive me for the lies and the running around, the late nights, everything.

Of course, I forgive you. I just didn't want you to hurt yourself irreparably. I knew what was going on, but I feared you would launched some hard consequences. 

Yeah, I just wanted to do what I wanted to do.

Head on his knee now, I felt the wedge of dishonesty and hiding and shame lift. We connected as mother and son, human to human -  something I had prayed for, for years.

He continued to cry and admit to all the things I had suspected, the pain of rebellion releasing.  Love and forgiveness purifying, freeing us both. It was his Independence Day;  a day of sweet reconciliation.  A coveted conversation that blanketed our hearts and souls with healing and restoration.

I knew what youthful mistakes could do to a life. Mine follow me to this day. I am still working through them.  There was nothing more I wanted than to help my child avoid the same mistakes.

This was his day to raise the white flag; the day my prodigal son come home.

Photo Credit: The Leftovers

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How I Finally Ended My Weekend Affair

My attraction began in 2004. It starting with a furtive glance, then a lingering look that grew to  all-out desire. Every time the object of my affection crossed my path, full blown passion was ignited. I fantasized about our first meeting, me with my hair flying in the wind in a gauzy blouse, sunglasses and a cooler-than-you expression.

In 2007, we had our first weekend rendezvous. The spontaneity of it only augmented the excitement. I booked a hotel and car for a 2-day songwriting conference in North Carolina and tagged on some sightseeing  before the conference. We met after the flight landed. The rental place aided and abetted when they offered me a deal of $5 a day more just to have you.

We had the quintessential weekend fling in the  Carolina smoky mountains including a visit to the Vanderbilt Estate and wine-tasting, culminating in the drive up the winding road to the Vanderbilt, top down, towering emerald pines rising above my head with nothing between me and them but wind and azure sky.

After that illicit weekend, I went back to the minivan and small sedan of my real, boring life. But I wanted you for my own and thought about you endlessly. It was my goal to not only meet again, but to share my life with you.

Years passed.  Another weekend liaison in California occurred that fired up my passion again.

Finally, I had the chance to meet you and buy you for my very own. But it was 10 years later and when I went to see you I saw you for what you really were. Torn, old and dated. You were dirty and leaky. Your top didn't even work.  How did I spend so many years wanting an illusion? So many years not appreciating what I had.

It's over.

It's finally over.

My affair with a Chevy Sebring convertible is over.

I will never look outside the four walls of my garage again.

Although, I do have my eye on a VW beetle. And it's a convertible.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

When Faith and the Sex Industry Move in Together

The car sputtered, jerked and shook before it completely stalled just outside my neighborhood. The "check gauges" and oil icons came on. Oh no! The engine's seized for lack of oil, I thought to myself! Speed dialed hubby, who didn't answer.  I was late for work.

So I did what anyone else would have done. Rather than hit redial, sit and wait for husband to pick up, I got out of the car, jay-walked the highway, hopped the chain link fence, machete-ed my way through the hedges, emerging with spider webs trailing from my black slacks and twigs jutting from my hair, walked through strangers' backyards and made it home in 5 minutes.

Hubby hadn't left. I briefed him on my vehicle mis-hap and we were planning our repair when he smacked his forehead with palm of hand and said, It's the gas! You ran out of gas! I forgot to fill up for you last night. I'm sorry.  I let you down.

For the first time in my life, I didn't want to wring his neck. He constantly drives on empty and leaves nothing but fumes for me to drive on, usually late to my next appointment.

This time I was elated. After all it wasn't a seized engine! We just ran out of gas! Nonetheless, I was late for work. We found the gas can, filled up the car and I was off, even later than ever. I pulled in and walked in with another latecomer whose car I noticed as one of those cute VW beetles. I wanted to ask her how she liked her car, because we are in the market for one, but she was busy talking on her cell phone all the way into the class I was coordinating. Thank God for dependable volunteers.

Coincidentally,  after class the very same girl lingered by the coffee pot as I was clearing it.  I asked her how she liked her VW beetle. Wow, was she ever ready to tell someone that answer! A waterfall of words gushed out about complaints with dealers and manufacturers because the body was falling apart on her newish car.

Then the conversation turned to her personal life: how she has 6 yr old twins with an absent dad. How she works in the 'entertainment' industry, but was debating showing up today. She puts her kids in Christian school while she works in a gentleman's (what an oxymoron) club and can't seem to find a nanny to take care of the twins at night.

Age 2 is too young to encounter the adult body. But that was when she was first physically violated.

Then it was a string of violations. No relatives or church members dared to expose the perpetrators. Nor did they come to her defense. Yes, she admitted to rebelling later, and took responsibility for part of her situation.

Her name is not Candy or Star or any of the typical names those girls have.

 Her name is FAITH.

I realize I  never would have met her if I hadn't run out of gas as she sits in front of me at a table in church and tells me she is a trained beautician, but hates the field and really wants to be a therapist, but can't afford school and needs the money from her current occupation, which made her $1400 just yesterday.

Then I tell her my story of having an unwanted pregnancy at 17 and how I adopted out. How God redeemed my mess and allowed me to reunite with my adult daughter recently. And how He can redeem anyone, no matter what.

I am reminded of what I read that morning by Oswald Chambers:

Watch the kind of people God brings around you and you will be humiliated to find that this is His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to him. Now, He says, exhibit to that one exactly what I have shown to you.



A second (3rd, 4th, 5th) chance.

A clean slate.

No remembrance of wrongs.

That's what we give to those who come to us sitting in the midst of their shredded lives. We see them whole again. Pure again. Lovely again.

No labels and stigmas. Not that kind of girl.

Still, how do Faith and the sex industry co-exist? Like oil and water, they cannot mix for long before the molecules will vehemently repel and separate. How many of us in the church are just like her? How many men partake and wrestle with their contradictory lives. How many Faith's sit among us? 

She says she feels better after attending bible study and wants to skip work.

And could I get her in touch with our human trafficking rescue ministry director for her, she asks?  Sure I will.   She says goodbye and 

Oh, don't forget, if you know anyone, 
I still am looking for a night-time nanny.

Faith misses class next week and the next and doesn't show up to meet the director.

Will Faith have enough faith to trust God to make a different occupation? Will she have enough faith to believe she can be a different person? Do self-hate, guilt, and the inner turmoil of knowing what is right, and not believing there is an escape, keep her away?

It's a fact that Faith and the Sex Industry will never co-habitate peacefully.

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