Blockston, Pt, 3

house

Be sure to catch part one and part two of Blockston.

 

Mia sat in her car outside of the tiny diner, staring at the napkin in her hand. Gayle had scribbled out a simple map to the now empty house where she had lived with her parents and brother 20 years ago. Drive down to the blinking caution light, turn left. Drive two blocks to Partridge Street and take a right. The two story white house would be the second house on the right.

Why is my stomach in knots? She wondered. It’s just an old house. She sighed, tossed the napkin onto the passenger’s seat, and shoved her keys into the ignition.

The blinking light. A left turn. Two blocks. A right. And there it was in all its old and decaying glory. She pulled slowly into the long drive and stopped just to the right of the front porch. From this corner, the house appeared to be a large white cube with a green cap on top. The paint was peeling, the foundation was moldy, and a few of the windows were cracked.

She stepped out of the car and continued down the drive on foot, stopping to peer in the side windows. Through the first window, she saw only an empty, dusty room with a hard wood floor. The next window was too tall for her to reach. Probably the bathroom, she thought. The last window on the side of the house was also too high, but if she stood back a ways, she could see kitchen cupboards.

She rounded the corner of the house to find a closed in back porch with windows all the way around it. Inside was an old rusty washing machine and dryer. For a split second, Mia could smell laundry soap and hear water running into the washing machine. She heard her mother’s voice. “Dump it in, Mia, so the clothes can take a bath.” She saw a bruise on her mother’s outstrenched arm.

Mia stepped away from the window and continued around the closed in porch to the other side of the house. This side was not the straight up cube the other side had been. A utility closet occupied the corner where the closed in porch ended. The house then jutted out about eight feet past the utility closet.

This jutted chunk of house was the living room and included another jutted out section about 3×5 feet. Tall windows surrounded this section on the lower story. The upper story was a cute gable with a lone window.

Past the living room’s jutted section was another jut out with weirdly spaced high windows. Must be where the stairs are, she mused.

She rounded the corner and walked around the front porch. The porch had been majestic in its day. Victorian spindles lined the edge of the old, moldy porch roof, some of them broken. Paint was peeling from the white posts and the once gray steps and floor.

She carefully climbed the creaky steps and placed her hand on the door handle of the wooden screen door. Immediately, her mind went back and once again she was watching her younger self.

Young Mia stood trembling, peering out the screen door. Her daddy stood in the front yard in front of two police officers. His fists were clenched and his shoulders heaved with every quick, deep breath.

“Sir. Is everything ok?” One officer asked. “Your wife called. She was concerned for the safety of herself and your children.”

“Everything is perfectly fine,” her dad practically yelled.

“Sir. I’m going to need you to calm down,” the other officer commanded.

“I don’t need to calm down!” By this time Mia’s father was shaking with anger.

One of the officers laid his hand on his shoulder and implored, “Sir. If you don’t calm down, you will need to come with us.”

Mia’s father completely lost it at that point. He lifted his tight fist and punched the officer right in the nose. The other officer immediately shoved Mia’s father to the ground and handcuffed him.

Young Mia felt her mother’s shakey hand on her arm. “Come on, Mia. Come away from the door.”

The memory disappeared just as fast as it had come, as if it were sucked away in a vacuum. Mia pulled the screen door open and tried the door knob of the old wooden door. It turned.

Mia hesitated. Dare she enter? What if the memories hiding in the dark inner corners of this house were even worse than the ones she’d already encountered? What if they swallowed her up and she disappeared into that creepy vacuum right along with all the horrific memories?

 

Blockston, Pt. 1

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

The Art of Forgiveness

tears

If forgiveness is so freeing… if it is so vital to being completely ourselves… then what is it and how do we forgive? How do we get past the hurt and embrace the freedom?

What forgiveness is not:

  • Forgiveness does not free the offender from the consequences of his actions.
  • Forgiveness is not accepting abuse as a necessary element of life.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting what’s been done to us.
  • Forgiveness is not a mumbled response to an apology.

What forgiveness is:

  • Forgiveness finds fulfillment in moving on rather than in revenge.
  • Forgiveness reports abuse and seeks to end it.
  • Forgiveness finds a way to rise above the offense, without bottling it up.
  • Forgiveness is a choice to plant a seed of love, inspiration, and motivation in the heart.

Forgiveness is more of an internal choice than an outward action. It’s deciding that you will not let anger and vengeance manipulate your thoughts and actions. This decision may take hours, days, months, maybe even years to make, but the sooner you make it, the better off you are. You may need to make the decision to forgive over and over again as you encounter things that trigger the old feelings of pain and betrayal, but you will find that each time you do, it’s a little easier than the last.

Forgiveness is only possible if you allow the hurt and the pain to surface. You cannot forgive something that you refuse to acknowledge. It’s this face to face with our deepest hurts that makes forgiveness one of the hardest thing to do.

Tears may flow. More tears than you ever dreamed possible. You may feel the heat of anger welling up in your chest. “I forgive them” may be the last words you want to utter. But until you do, you will never be free.

Music Monday: Forgiveness

forgivenessForgivenessMatthew West

(listen on Spotify or Youtube)

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don’t deserve It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…
 
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
 
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness 

 

Forgiveness is often misunderstood. It’s viewed as a sign of weakness… a sign that you don’t value yourself… that somehow forgiving the one who hurt you let’s them get away with it… that forgiveness is saying, “It’s ok. I shouldn’t have let it bother me.”

Sometimes we fear forgiveness. We think by forgiving, we will become more than just a victim. We think we will become enslaved to the offender and the wrongs he/she did to us. We think forgiveness gives them permission to continue hurting us.

But here’s the truth…. Forgiveness slices through the chains that hold us back from being all that we are meant to be. It frees us from the control of the offender and the control of the offense. It says, “I’m not going to let you or this situation dictate my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I am more than what you did to me, and I choose to move on.”

 ________________________________________________________________

In the conservative circle in which I grew up, contemporary Christian music was not allowed. After marrying, I began to listen to a CCM radio station. Much of my spiritual growth since then can be attributed to the many CCM artists and the songs they write. There is truth in those words and power in their music.

If music means as much to you as it does to me, you might want to check out Spotify. This music program allows you to search for particular songs and save them to playlists, allowing you to listen to your music whenever you wish. Best yet, it’s free. (It will require you to download their music program to your computer, but I promise it will not download any junk.) You can find all the songs highlighted in Music Mondays at the Recovered Identity Spotify playlist.

 

*photo credit

Music Monday: 7×70

7x70Chris August 7×70

(listen on Spotify or Youtube)

I’ve been living in this house here
Since the day that I was born
These walls have seen me happy
But most of all they’ve seen me torn
 
They’ve heard the screaming matches
That made a family fall apart
They’ve had a front row seat
To the breaking of my heart
 
7 times 70 times
I’ll do what it takes to make it right
I thought the pain was here to stay
But forgiveness made a way
 
7 times 70 times
There’s healing in the air tonight
I’m reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around
 
I remember running down the hallway
Playing hide and seek
I didn’t know that I was searching
For someone to notice me
 
I felt alone and undiscovered
And old enough to understand
Just when I’m supposed to be learning to love
You let me doubt again
 
7 times 70 times
I’ll do what it takes to make it right
I thought the pain was here to stay
But forgiveness made a way
 
7 times 70 times
There’s healing in the air tonight
I’m reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around
 
I lost count of the ways you let me down
But no matter how many times
You weren’t around
I’m all right now
 
God picked up my heart and helped me through
And shined a light on the one thing
Left to do
And that’s forgive you
 
I forgive you
 
7 times 70 times
If that’s the cost I’ll pay the price
 
7 times 70 times
I’ll do what it takes to make it right
I thought the pain was here to stay
But forgiveness made a way
 
7 times 70 times
There’s healing in this house tonight
I’m reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around 
 

This song brings so much emotion to the edge of my heart. And yet so much guilt for feeling these emotions. Who am I to say I had a painful childhood? Who am I to say that my childhood homes bring back memories that I’d rather forget?

There are so many people in the world who experienced far worse over and over again. So many children at this very moment being beaten by a drunk or furious parent. So many children at this very moment being touched in ways they never should. What makes my pain special? How could I hurt when there is far worse?

Yet, just because there is far worse, doesn’t make the wrongs right. Making light of it all is only denial. It’s choosing to remain in the bondage of the past.

Before I can even forgive and move on, I have to confront the memories. I have to see them one by one, acknowledge the hurt, the pain… the abuse. Only then can I forgive. Only then can I say, “I am more than this!”

What memories does your childhood home hold? Do they need acknowledging?

Find a quiet place alone. Take an old photo album or other item that holds memories. Drive out to the old place, if you can. And then let the memories come.

Grab them one by one. Let yourself cry. Let yourself feel the pain. Take your time.

Then reach up, grab the healing that our Redeemer offers, wrap it around, and forgive.

________________________________________________________________

In the conservative circle in which I grew up, contemporary Christian music was not allowed. After marrying, I began to listen to a CCM radio station. Much of my spiritual growth since then can be attributed to the many CCM artists and the songs they write. There is truth in those words and power in their music.

If music means as much to you as it does to me, you might want to check out Spotify. This music program allows you to search for particular songs and save them to playlists, allowing you to listen to your music whenever you wish. Best yet, it’s free. (It will require you to download their music program to your computer, but I promise it will not download any junk.) You can find all the songs highlighted in Music Mondays at the Recovered Identity Spotify playlist.

 

*photo credit

Blockston, Pt. 1

arrowHe wasn’t a man of very many words, but the few he spoke last Monday still rang loud and clear in her ears. “You’re emotionally sick, Mia. It’s time to face the past. It’s time to heal.” For some reason, her elderly boss at the local ice cream parlor had taken a personal interest in her and treated her as if she were his granddaughter.

The wind from the open car windows blew through her blonde hair as she sped down the highway. She flipped on the radio, grateful that her grandfatherly boss had given her the week off. He said she was to spend the week looking for herself, whatever that meant.

She had no clue where she was going. She just knew she couldn’t spend the entire week cooped up in her small apartment.

Her little Chevy chugged its way up the interstate ramp. I-70, the iconic interstate sign read. Her mind wandered to that day two years ago when her little Chevy had chugged down that same ramp.

She had not known where she was going that day either. She had only wanted to run… far away… from the constant stress and pain. She had wanted to leave behind the people and the memories that made her life so miserable.

It had been the conversation with her brother that morning that had pushed her to the point of disappearing off the face of the earth… or at least from the community. She had arranged to meet him at IHOP. She had picked at her food while he scarfed his down in Cookie Monster style.

“Gee. You eat much?” she had asked.

“Grump much?” he had quipped back. “What’s your deal, man? You’re just sitting there moping like your dog died.”

She cleared her throat. “Actually I wanted to talk to you about something.”

She had confided in him about the abuse she had received from their father as a child, and he had accused her of making it up. “You disgust me, Mia. Why are you so hell-bent on making Dad out to be a monster?”

She had heard enough. She pushed back her chair with a loud screech and ran out of the building. She went straight to her tiny, dingy apartment and started to pack the few items she owned. She had left town that night without telling anyone.

The low fuel signal dinged, bringing her out of her reverie. She quickly swerved toward the upcoming exit, hoping to find a gas station. She slowed to a stop at the end of the ramp and looked down the road. A tiny Phillips 66 stood tucked in the trees alongside the right side of the rarely used country road.

She turned, drove the half mile, and pulled in beside a gas pump. As she stood next to the pump, waiting for the tank to fill, she took in her surroundings. Something seemed vaguely familiar about this place, like a bad dream lurking in the dark corners of her mind. What was it?

Her tank full, she pulled out toward the road. She hesitated. She wanted to turn back toward the interstate, but something unexplainable was pulling her in the opposite direction.

Just a couple miles, she thought. She ventured down the country road away from the interstate and into the familiar unknown.

Before she knew it, the “couple miles” had turned into six, and she came to a dead end. A big yellow rectangular road sign stood its post across the road from her. The thick black arrow demanded she choose a direction. Under it was another sign. “Blockston – 4 miles” with an arrow pointing left.

Blockston. Blockston. Why did that sound so familiar? She shrugged and made a left turn, unable to resist the pull.

As her little Chevy climbed a small hill, the tiny town came into view. It wasn’t much. A cluster of run down houses and a one block wide Main Street.

“Blockston. It’s been 20 years since I’ve seen you,” she murmured out loud, as the memories began to trickle in one by one.

 

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

Forgiveness Hill (A Child’s Story)

hill1

It had been several weeks since Christian had climbed through the boulders of trial. The only reminders of his painful climb were the scars where his cuts and scrapes had healed. The bump on his head had completely disappeared.

The journey since that climb had been easy and enjoyable. There had been warm sunshine, a bubbling brook to rest beside, and other traveling friends to talk with. Christian was getting used to all the goodness around him.

That’s when he saw it looming in front of him- a tall hill. Christian shrugged. “It’s just a hill,” he thought. “Last time, it was sharp towering boulders. This should be easy.” He tightened the straps of his backpack and rubbed his shoulders. The pack was sure getting heavy lately.

The slope was slight at first – not too steep. The view was simply gorgeous. Bees buzzed and hovered above fluttering flowers. Birds sang loud and clear in the surrounding trees.

Christian took a deep breath of fresh air. It felt good. He gulped another, but a pain in his shoulder made the breath stick in his throat before he could finish. He slowly let it out through winced teeth and readjusted his backpack. Why was this thing so heavy?

As he continued on his way, the hill began to get more and more steep. It wasn’t rocky. There were no cliffs to climb. But the pack on his back kept digging into his shoulders. He was tired and breathless. The extra weight was wearing him out.

Halfway up the hill, Christian sat under a tree to rest. “Maybe,” he thought, “I should just take off my pack and leave it behind.” He slipped it off his shoulders and plopped it in front of him. Should he go on without it?

He touched the zipper and shivered. He knew he shouldn’t open it. That if he did, he would regret it, but the pull was so hard, he couldn’t help it. Slowly, he slid the zipper. Before it opened even an inch, bubbles came pouring out and floated around him. Dark bubbles filled with dark memories.

Christian reached out and grabbed a bubble. He held it gently in his hand and watched the memory inside like a movie on TV. He saw himself as a five year old boy talking to his older brother.

“Please give it back,” he had said. “It’s mine, and Dad said you have to leave it alone.” His older brother had only laughed as he held Christian’s favorite stuffed bear above his head.

“Please!!” Christian begged.

His older brother sneered, “You can have it back when I’m done with it.” Then he ripped off the bears arms, legs, and head. He dropped the pieces at Christian’s feet and ran away.

Just seeing this memory play inside the dark bubble made Christian angry. “He was my older brother!” he said out loud. Older brothers are supposed to take care of their younger ones. They’re supposed to love them and help them, not hurt them.

Christian reached out for another bubble. He held it in his hand and watched the memory. He was seven in this one, standing in the middle of the broken pieces of his mom’s favorite vase. His mom was yelling at him. “Why did you do this?! That was my favorite vase. Ugh! I am so mad!!” Christian had tried to tell her that he didn’t do it. That the cat had jumped up on the table and knocked it off, but his mom was too mad to listen.

“It wasn’t my fault!” Christian yelled as he threw the bubble away from him. He grabbed another and another. One after the other, until he was so mad he could hardly stand it. He could hear his heart beating hard and fast. His face felt hot. He was clinching his teeth so hard, his jaw hurt.

He gathered up his bubbles, stuffed them back in, threw his pack onto his back and started to run up the hill. “I am so mad!” he thought. “There’s no way I’d leave this pack behind. I need these memories, so when I see these people again, I can show them their bubble and how much they hurt me.”

It wasn’t long until the angry energy ran out, and Christian collapsed in exhaustion. He pulled his knees up to his chin, put his head down, and cried a long cry. It just all hurt so much. How could these people do that to him?

Christian felt a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong, my friend?”

He looked up. Another boy stood beside him. He looked at Christian with love and concern. “Can you tell me why you’re crying?” the boy asked again, as he sat down beside Christian.

“It’s this pack” Christian blurted. “I hate it! It’s so heavy and it hurts my shoulders.”

“What’s in it?” the boy asked.

Christian looked down and quietly answered, “Bubbles.”

“What kind of bubbles?”

Christian shivered. “Dark ones. Heavy ones.”

The boy put his arm around him. “I had a pack full of dark bubbles too. The memories inside were too heavy to carry. I also fell to the ground in tears.”

For the first time, Christian realized the boy did not have a pack. “What happened? What did you do with your backpack?”

The boy smiled. “I said two powerful words and let it go.”

Christian stared at him in disbelief. “Didn’t you want to keep the bubbles to show to the people who hurt you?”

“I thought I did,” the boy replied. “But then I decided to show them to God first.  I wanted Him to see how much they had hurt me. I wanted Him to punish them. But He told me to let the bubbles go and say the two powerful words.”

“Did you?” Christian asked.

“It was hard.” the boy admitted. “After He told me to let them go, I started gathering up my bubbles and stuffing them back in my pack. I didn’t want to let them go. But as I was stuffing them in, I realized that these bubbles only made my pack heavy. It made it hard to climb the hill. And for what? All those bubbles only made me sad and angry. Why do I need them?”

“So what did you do?” Christian asked.

“I said the words, dropped my pack, and watched it roll down the hill.”

Christian slowly began to take off his backpack. “What were the powerful words?” he whispered.

“I forgive,” the boy whispered back.

Christian held his pack out in front of himself. He studied it for a while. Then he whispered, “I forgive.” Then again, louder this time, “I forgive.” He dropped his pack to the ground and watched it roll down the hill. “I FORGIVE!” he shouted.

photo credit