Estranged

dad

I got the call today I didn’t want to hear but I knew that it would come

It came by way of text. My father had passed away. When you are estranged no one calls you when they are sick, or in the hospital, or dying, or dead, or buried, and truthfully you can’t expect it because that is what estranged means. It means you’re alienated.

He made it to 80 and like his daughter he lived his life his way. Many broken pieces, a mother he called formally, Doña Julia, so you kind of get the picture just in this sentence alone of what his childhood must have been like although he never spoke of it. Then off to a war in Korea at the age of 17 where the United States Army taught him to be a paratrooper. You didn’t dare sneak up on him while he was sleeping or you risked being hit. He’d wake with such a fright, swinging and yelling. One can only imagine what his mind carried.

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes

My mother called him a Disneyland dad. He took us on crazy adventures and didn’t make me comb my hair and I loved him for that. I ended up in a hospital in Mazatlán at the age of 9 or 10. I had been given money to have a good day while my dad worked in our hotel room. I was told under no circumstances was I to eat off a street vendor, I was to come back to the hotel to eat. I didn’t listen and ended up violently ill with scary high fever.  He taught me to not respond to men’s whistles because I was not a dog to be fetched. He taught me to value myself and when I didn’t he was deeply disappointed and said so in no uncertain terms, and when he was exasperated with me or disappointed he called me, “Doña Julia”, so, there you go, another piece of the puzzle. He also taught me to respect others and to argue a point without taking it personally. Politics was a forefront of discussion and he was a die-hard Democrat. When my son was two he nicknamed him Gaddafi because he said he was a dictator and we were all subjects.

The more I know, the less I understand,
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again

We loved each other like a dad and a daughter do and I can rest assured in that fact. We made up our own dance moves to The Hustle back in the day. We sang at the top of our lungs to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin songs as we drove down a winding mountain road at night, and then for fun turned off the lights to the car so that it was pitch black to see how we would make it down the hill “one way or the other”. He was into teaching his children no fear and no tears. We would squeal with laughter and we were taught to be brave. We ate McDonalds in the back of a Piper while he taught us to fly. I fell in love with Kiss in 6th grade so when they came to the LA Coliseum he took me as he was cool like that. He didn’t even make a scene when the drugs were being passed down the aisle, it was the 70’s and there was still a sense of community. He just shouted for me to pass it on down, and to not be scared or bothered. He made me realize that I could set myself apart but I would have to choose. He taught me I had control of my world and I could run it as I wanted. He held me accountable to that for sure and it broke my heart to bits when I disappointed him.

I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter                                                                                                                                       But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter    

Somehow I knew this day was coming. I got a nudge this past summer. “If you’re going to go and see your dad you should go now.” However, I didn’t. What is passed is past and the freedom that comes in forgiveness allows you to walk away not without a sense of loss but with a peace that it is what it is and life isn’t always a fairytale with a neatly wrapped bow at Christmas and you honor people’s decisions.

But I think it’s about forgiveness                                                                                                                                  

Today as I wrap up the Christmas shopping and do a few last minute things at work, there are tears and there is a sense of deep deep loss. He would hate the tears but love the fact that I feel a loss. It would serve his sense of justice and because I am cut of the same cloth it serves mine as well. My mother said not to think too much. She said he also had a responsibility to mend a fence but  I know that broken people don’t and stubborn people don’t and somehow I have to figure out which one I am because we are all in process to the end.

There are people in your life
Who’ve come and gone
They let you down
You know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby
‘Cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger
It’ll eat you up inside baby

Thanks Don Henley for putting it in perspective.

 

A Couple’s Gift

cheating

I’m in ministry to women. In that role I hear about some hard things women go through but the ones that gets me the most are cheating and hatefulness, and yes cheating is hateful so let me explain what I mean. When a wife cheats or her husband cheats the results are the same. There is unbearable pain caused to the other because it was never an accident or a mistake. It was a series of many choices. The choice to call, the choice to meet up, the choice to speak about things a married person has no business talking about to another person, a choice to spend money on drinks, dinners, or gifts that took time and money away from a family. It was a choice to pretend not to be married. A CHOICE. Often the payback is that the wronged spouse now believes all bets are off and cheats themselves creating a cycle of wrong behavior. I don’t believe in sexual addiction and it isn’t recognized by the American Psychiatric Association so when that becomes an excuse I don’t buy it.

hurt

Then there are those couples who don’t value each other. They speak to each other with such disdain. It’s when a person who doesn’t care what the other person wants and only wants their way, neither do they accept any blame for their part of the craziness, that you can see there is no love. It’s an insistence on your own way. It’s pure selfishness and often stems from those who think it’s the responsibility of one to make the other happy by making sure it’s their way or the highway.

The covenant or vow of love has been made and broken and while sin may be personal it is never private it affects many. Over and over again I see that although some choose to stay together it is never the same. The marriage becomes a fragmented piece of what could have been whole. It opens doors that can’t be closed again.

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. 

Why is this post coming at Christmas? At the first of the year, when the bills come in from overspending and the gifts that were expected weren’t received, and extended family acted up, and the stress of the holidays are over, people end up in my office with offenses going back to 2008. These offenses normally fall into two main categories, adultery and hatefulness.

Give yourself a gift this Christmas. Choose love. Love wouldn’t ever hurt another in fact lover prefers one another. Yes there are options and divorce is more acceptable to me than killing each other slowly, however the bible is clear on covenant and no one walks away unscathed.

 

Unexpected Blow

punch

http://lifehacker.com/5829523/how-to-throw-a-punch-correctly

A few weeks ago the men’s group was having their weekly meeting. A man peered through the window as if trying to see what was going on. One the church leaders thought he was a new visitor and walked over to the door and said, “Hi, are you…..” He never finished the sentence when the man swung his fist at him. Our leader dodged and ended up getting punched in the shoulder instead of the jaw. Total shock and chaos ensued as men began to chase him, and the police were called.

Sometimes life hands you unexpected blows.

Unannounced attacks in ministry often happen in just this manner. They are extremely painful, because not only does it involve shocking pain, but there is an effect on our body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes it affects our ability to trust others. Sometimes it affects our ability to trust God. Wounds from a ministry leader are often so painful because the betrayal is so heart-wrentching.

Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

Oh, how David ached at the fact that he thought he had a loyal friend who was walking along in unity with him and felt they were on the same page working toward the same goals. Betrayal hurts and the wounds are sometimes painfully worse than the physical blow our leader shockingly took that night.

Through a vivid dream I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to compile stories of unexpected blows in ministry and write them in book form.  I need your help. If you are/were on staff at a church and have had an unexpected blow from a leader whom you considered a mentor or friend I’d like to hear your story.

Send me the details. Include your name and phone number so I can speak with you directly if I have any questions. Send your letters to Susan Young, 1005 I St., Los Banos, CA 93635 or you can email me at pastorasusan@gmail.com.

It doesn’t ring true to my ears to say that I look forward to hearing from you because I know the pain of ministry and I know the cost of the betrayal of a friend on my very own soul and the healing process that has to take place. When you trust someone with your well-being it is ever so painful and I get that. So instead I leave you with a prayer that the Lord richly bless you and minister to you and that you be made whole body, mind, and spirit.

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.