Before I can even hang-up the telephone a tear rolls down my cheek; if I can wipe it away before it reaches my chin, it doesn't count. I stop trying to talk and just listen to the remaining conversation answering their questions like I am taking a grade school test with only yes and no. The calls are pretty much the same each time. Demands are made, I am told how I should be handling my life and I am reminded about all the wonderful things that have been done for me and about their money and it's conditional love.
I am mentally exhausted when I finally say goodbye spending the next half an hour trying to figure out why I answered the telephone to begin with, I knew who was calling and I knew what was going to be said and I still took the call. I feel about two inches tall and my self-esteem can now be slipped out under the front door. No matter how many times I pledge not to engage in these destructive and demeaning exchanges, I do the very thing I don't want to do, just as the Apostle Paul said; its that inner conflict that I battle each day. I seem to get tripped up in being respectful and honoring my family but at what cost?
I have to ask myself whom do I love the most, am I putting my family above God. I realize that is a very hard statement for anyone to make or hear. We all say God is first and our family is second, but is that really how we live? How many times have I put something I was doing for God on hold to deal with a family drama, a distraction most likely set-up by Satan? Each time I dip my toe into one of these "soap opera" family moments I lose, no matter what side I chose or if I chose neither side. It is impossible to please everyone. I am considered either unfeeling and cold or passive and not helpful. The real truth is I cannot help, I never could, because that is not what they want; they want the drama and the strife. They would never, ever admit to that, they always say they only want "peace" but they stir the pot much to often to really want peace.
I feel like a little girl again standing in-between my father and mother. My parents are shouting at each other, I am looking up at them. My mother grabs my arm and shouts that she is leaving with me, only to have my father grab my other arm and say no I am staying with him. Scared and crying I can't say anything loud enough to be heard over their argument, but I know one thing, I can not stay and I can not go at the same time.
Now 45 years later it's the same type of situation, I move forward toward God and the family strife tries to keep me in the same place. Like a six-year old child who can not decide which parent to choose, I feel like I have to choose between God and my family. How can I do this? If I step forward aren't I breaking the commandment of "Honor thy Father and Mother and you will have long life?" But, shouldn't my commitment to God trump everything and everyone else. It makes me see how very human I am and how susceptible I am to praise from "man" instead of quiet honor to God.
I am at a cross road and I know it and I guess if it was easy for me to literally run across toward God I could consider myself spiritually mature. But this struggle within me tells the truth; it revels my heart and shows me just how weak I really am.
It's not that all of my family is horrible people with cruel intentions. But they are good at emotional blackmail and very skilled at using mean-spirited words to put you in your place, as they see it. Even though I have known this for a long time and even though I am getting better at deflecting their harsh comments, I still haven't gotten out from under their control completely, if I had their "statements" would be meaningless and I would dismiss them as soon as I heard them.
So where do I place them in my life, what part of my heart do I love them with, knowing that they will never understand or reciprocate the love I have for them by the grace God has given me. I cannot move to the place where I must be if I have to keep correcting my past. All that was done cannot be changed no matter how much time I spend thinking about it or hearing about it from those who are suppose to love me the most. It was at their hands that the cruelest acts happened but as we all know people are often likely to rewrite history into a more pleasant version that they can live with.
So, I am asking myself, questioning myself, does anyone really leave family and home and wealth to follow God like the Disciples' did when Jesus walked the earth, and if so I know of no one who has done this? Can God call this for me? Can He ask me to leave my family for the calling He has placed on my life? I know the answer; we all know the answer. The Book of Matthew Chapter 10 verses 34 through 39 tell me the answer "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Such powerful words as I read them out loud to myself but seemingly so difficult for me to live by. But, when The Creator of everything, who left Heaven for us, was slain for our sins and rose again so that we could live forever with Him in Glory is asking me to leave behind what is truthfully not even good for me, how could I refuse? Compared to His suffering it is the smallest of requests from me, from all of us that could be given to Him. His love encompasses our lives, our past, our present and our future; nothing He asks of me is too much or to big for me not to accept. For I will not be alone in anything I do, He is always by my side.
Now, am I willing to take the test, how shall I answer the final question, shall I find my life and lose it, or shall I lose my life for His sake and find Glory in Jesus.
I have been writing all my life, I just didn't realize it until I was my late 40's. I hope my experiences can help other who have gone through similar trials.