Every part of me wants to flee this town and never have to look anyone in the face again. I’ve begged God to let me go, but I’m still here.
This morning I woke thinking of the parallels in my life and my adopted father’s life and what is happening now. I am in the middle of a scandal in the same town he was over thirty years ago. I always swore I’d never be as stupid as he was, yet here I am.
My parents adopted me when I was three months old. They brought me home to a house that is right behind the church. My brother, who was 12 at the time, would ride me around as a baby on his go kart where the church now sits. I was told by my mom that made me very happy. Those were the good day’s before everything fell apart.
My adopted father was the vice president of a bank in this town. He’d worked his way up to success and my brother and I wanted for nothing. We moved to a bigger house in the nicest neighborhood behind the country club. I could have taken pride in who I was and what family I was apart of, but for some reason I never seemed to be able to. At the core of who I was even as a little girl was shame that I wasn’t good enough.
My adopted father began to make bad choices that involved alcohol, writing bad checks, and God only knows what else. He had appeared to be a man who had it all together. He was friendly, well dressed with a nice home and family, yet somewhere on the inside something went awry and he stumbled into the depths of human depravity taking us with him.
We lost everything, absolutely everything. I didn’t understand what had happened. My mom was angry and I was very, very afraid. My brother had escaped the worst of the downfall getting married not long before the house of cards fell.
For the later part of my adopted father’s life I listened to him rant about this town and the people in it. They’d taken everything that belonged to him. People he’d known at the bank had back stabbed him. Rather than take the responsibility for his fall he blamed others that he fell and the rest of his life was lived in utter shame.
I was taught that you made sure you held it together on the outside. If I ever lost it once and cried or got upset he screamed at me. Once I spilled a pitcher of tea on the kitchen table. It wet everything and made a huge mess. He was upset with me. I have lived years in fear of spilling the tea and messing up everything around me. It’s been a huge responsibility, and I’m so very tired of doing it. As a matter of fact, I can’t anymore.
When I came to this church years ago I had no idea I’d stand in the middle of a scandal just as my adopted father so many years ago. What makes me sick in all this is I’ve been more concerned about the mess I’ve made from spilling the tea and what everyone is going to think of ME rather than the hurt I’ve caused my family and will continue to cause my family if I continue to live in shame. I can’t carry the weight of my shame. I have three choices, I can blame others as my adopted father did and die a slow and miserable life eating away at my family with the acid of bitterness, I can internalize my shame and commit suicide leaving my family with nothing, or I can give it to the only One who can carry it.
He’s been waiting all of my life for me to give it to Him. He once stood naked and exposed before everyone, the laughing stock of many, a mad man to others, a Savior to those of us who will look to Him and not be ashamed. The sin that I gave into as an escape from my pain and the man I replaced my very Savior with are both covered with Christ’s death on the cross. I could easily blame the man who became my idol for everything, but I won’t. I remember clearly the day I made the choice to turn away from my loving Father who warned me not to walk a certain way. From a worldly standpoint, the severity of his crime is indeed worse than mine. People looked up to him, expected more. I did, too and that’s why I’m writing this today. I expected so much I made him a god. He was only a man who could do nothing without Christ, and Christ says to all of us, “It is Finished.”
Yes, there are consequences. Others have been hurt badly. Thus the reason for the law, to keep us loving our neighbors. The words I am sorry seem too shallow, but I am very sorry for not loving all of you. There is no excuse, but there is a relief we can all look to. Jesus Christ hanging on a cross took the shame and said, “It is Finished.” I’m here because I believe that. In this knowledge I am breaking the generational chains that have held me captive my entire life. Because of Him and Him alone, I am finally free.
Thank God in Jesus Christ our Lord.