All-American action hero, G.I. Joe
For those following this blog for the first time four days ago my wife, Karen, drove me to the Englehart & District Hospital ER because of an allergic reaction to a chemical called Vitrol, which was needed to deal with toxins from raw sewage backup in the basement of our home. We came home yesterday to a home without the presence of any of the particulates from the Vitrol. A hydroxyl generator in our basement for three and a half days took the presence of the chemical away. Hallejuah!
As I prayed about all we experienced, I thought about what it is like for all of us coming home. I am reminded of memories of home for me as a child in the small town of Thornbury, near Collingwood, Ontario. The aroma of my Mom’s apple cinnamon pie wafting through the air. The sweet taste of apples freshly picked from an apple tree. The make-believe game I would play with a cardboard box fashioned into a TV, where all of the neighbour kids would play a character from a TV show. I enjoyed playing TV heroes like the Lone Ranger.Now, I am really dating myself:) I counted among my most valued toys my All-American G.I. Joe action doll .
When I would pull the string on my G.I. Joe, he would offer words of reassurance. In my fantasy world I created to escape from the abuse of my father, G.I. Joe was my constant companion. With G.I. Joe by my side, I could never get hurt. The fantasy though never matched the painful reality of my abuse.
Even with the horrific abuse from my schizo affective father, home still holds for me memories of belonging and feeling so deeply loved by my mother, brother and two sisters. Whenever I was beaten up or ridiculed by my father, I knew that I could come home to the loving arms of my mother. When my mom sang How Great Thou Art or Amazing Grace, I felt her love for God and me flow through her beautiful voice. How I so much miss those special times of singing with mom and my sister, Val.
I feel in ways I can’t yet fully describe to you that God will soon call me to go home again. I long to see family and friends of long ago. I so much miss my connection with them. Phone calls help, but they never replace the joy and love you receive falling into the loving arms of those who are dear, who are special to your heart.
The image of a fall scene that my mom painted as a landscape painting comes to my mind. Mom paints the birch tree in such a way that it looks like it is going to fall out of the picture. The leaves of crimson, orange and yellow fill the picture with a light, grace and captivating beauty that defies accurate human description, because I believe the Holy Spirit was with my mom as she painted. Whenever I remember that picture that sadly got lost in one of our moves, I come home again.
Home. That place of love, of belonging and feeling needed and valued can be the gift of all of us. Many of us come from dysfunctional families, but as I reflect upon the abuse of my schizo affective father, I know deep in my heart he loved me.
The home we once knew changes with time. Friends and family move away. People die. Yet, home is always there in one form or another to come back to, that place in our hearts where we feel appreciated and valued, where an inner warmth comes flooding our spirit as we think of all that home means to us.
There’s a song that is dear to my heart called Softly and Tenderly. It speaks of a different kind of coming home — a coming home to God. Perhaps, you are angry at God. You feel in your time of greatest need He has abandoned you. While our experiences are different many of you have written to me of your own feelings of abandonment , rejection and abuse. I have been there. There have been years when I did not feel the living and active presence of God in my life. I knew He was there, but my anger with God over all of the circumstances of my life with abuse, poverty and medical challenges made me feel like God was an absentee father, who really didn’t care about me or my situation.
As I have now been in counselling for over two years for the abuse I experienced from my schizo affective father and all the people who have misjudged me in my life and receiving more support for the many medicines I need for my auto immune conditions, a beautiful and healing truth is emerging. No matter what I have experienced or the hurtful things I have said to others as a result of these conditions, God forgives me. I ran away from Him at times, but I always knew I had God to come home to.
Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, God is with you through them. He hears your pain and your anger. He hears your frustration. He feels your deepest anxieties.
We are all sinners saved by God’s amazing grace. We can all come home to Him. Remember that unique fall scene I told you about that my mom painted? No matter how hard she tried, she could never duplicate that effect of the birch tree looking like it would fall out of the picture. I think when mom painted that picture it was the healing home God created for her in her heart and mind.
I lost my mom three days before Christmas 1992 after three heart attacks. The Lord took her home at age 57 because she couldn’t heal here from the awful, spirit-crushing experiences of her abuse.
I still have a letter that mom wrote when I was nineteen beginning my training to be a minister. Here’s what she said. It is a letter to God.
Lord, You know how much I love my son. He has poor eye sight and his health is not the best, but from the time he was born I saw something special in him, a light, Your light in him. He has been such a loving son to me, but I know I was only looking after him for You.
Lord, I give him back to You. I know he will touch many lives while he is here.
Please watch over him.
Mom through that act of love understood and accepted that I was called to always have my spiritual home with God. Perhaps, something I have shared will bring you back fully home to the Father.
While home changes our spiritual home of being with God never changes. Please come home to Him today.