Forgiving can be painfully difficult.

As a Christian, I’m required by my faith to be forgiving; even to those who refuse to forgive me. I am however not required by my faith to forget and therein is the rub … at least for me. There are a couple of reasons for the rub. How do I forgive completely when my brain won’t let me forget that I was the recipient of emotional pain? My Webster’s dictionary defines “forgive” this way: “To give up resentment or claim to requital on account of;” To give up “claim to requital on account of” is fairly easy to do, but resentment? That’s a whole other ball game. How does one remember emotional pain without resentment?
When I was in early recovery from my alcoholism one of the primary things necessary to sustained recovery was addressing and then abandoning whatever resentments I had tucked away in my battered brain. I had quite a few; the most significant of which was the resentments I had against my ex-wife. I had nursed those like a precious child for years. I had a favorite comment which I utilized frequently when talking about her and it was this: “I wish I’d known how dead serious that preacher was when he said ‘till death do you part.’” The reason for the attitude was her habit of letting an issue lie dormant for years and then for no apparent reason resurrect the perceived affront, usually in hope of financial gain, but often out of simple vendictiveness. At any rate, I did eventually come to a reasonably sustainable absence of resentment.
One of the benefits of writing my memoir was that I was finally forced to actually take a hard look at my part in the disaster that our relationship evolved into. The mere fact alone, of realizing that other people who knew us both would likely read what I was putting down on paper, caused me to accept, in print, all the wrongs I’d committed. I gained a greater sense of peace and forgiveness which bore the fruit of releasing the resentment. It was gone at last.
In addition to peace of mind I felt that I had been able to confess those wrongs to our children in various ways and had achieved something of an honest admission of my failings as a parent. Then the chinks in my armor of forgiveness began to appear.
While I was in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving with my youngest (step)son and his family he told me that his brother felt I wasn’t fair to his grandfather in the book. He then suggested that I talk to his brother and clear the air by way of explaining why I’d written what I did. So, after considerable thought, just before Christmas I did exactly what had been suggested. The response I received was painful. It was painful for two reasons. He told me that as far as he was concerned his father had ceased to exist and to please not darken his doorway again. The second reason for pain was that his mother’s unforgiving streak had apparently taken root in our son at last.
Not to be outdone, my daughter delivered the same basic message a few days ago with the added touch of un-friending both me and her “father” on Facebook. It hurt … a lot.
Giving up “claim to requital on account of” I can do, because I must for my own peace of mind and because they are after all, ‘my” children. But, I find a sense of resentment toward their mother; first, since I’m reasonably certain she has a hand in the matter, indirectly at least, and toward what I can only chock up to genetic pre-disposition to harbor perceived affronts.
Abba is the only place I know to turn to for solace and direction. Since He’s been dealing with unforgiving and un-loving “children” forever maybe I’ll get the advice I seek from Him. The key here is for me to be receptive to His solution, which will more than likely be to “give up my resentment” without forgetting. I’m working on it … I’m working on it, Okay?

Not Bad Enough or Good enough!

Times have changed … Good grief, what a revelation G. True, but occasionally we need to be reminded of that fact. When I was five years old we lived in northeastern Oklahoma and attended an old established Methodist church; a church that I visited the day after this past Thanksgiving for the first time in nearly sixty years. Well, I say I visited but that’s not quite accurate; drove by is a more accurate description of the moment. The streets in front of and aside the building are not nearly the wide avenues I recalled but the building is exactly what I remembered and it’s still a Methodist church amazingly enough. The building cattycorner is still as I remembered, but it’s not a Presbyterian church anymore. The sign says that it is now a Pentecostal church of some stripe.
That big red brick edifice which has stood the test of time is important to me, not because of lessons about Jesus or God learned there, but because of what I learned of men and women who’d made a difference in the world. The church had an amazing children’s library which I made a beeline for each Sunday from the time I learned to read until we move away three and a half years later.
I didn’t read the usual children’s fare like The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. No, I read the extensive collection of biographies of the famous men and women who had shaped our country. Each week I checked out two books and had read half of one of them by the time church was over. The other one I finished during the week so I could check out two more. I read about everyone from the usual suspects of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to the little known like Squanto, one of the Indians who welcomed the first pilgrims, John Marshall, our first Supreme Court Justice, George Washington Carver, (my personal favorite because he invented peanut butter) and Martha Washington, George’s wife.
I came to believe that I was meant to be famous, that I would contribute something special to this world; to this country, which would merit my inclusion in the biography section of the worlds’ libraries. What the heck happened? Those details of what happened are what my memoir is all about; at least to a degree. The bright side is that I’m still alive and may succeed yet. If I do succeed, it will be because one of those little thorns that parents often, unintentionally place in the flesh of their children’s self-image was finally removed. That thorn was “bad enough.”
From the time I was in fifth or sixth grade until my senior year in high school I had pathetic grades at best and terrible grades at worst. Each report card would be reviewed by Dad after which he would ask the same question. “Don’t you want good grades?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“Well, you don’t want them bad enough. If you did you’d get good grades.”
So, since it was Dad speaking and it was his assessment then it must be correct. After all he was “Dad” and “Dad” was always right. It took years to realize that not wanting “bad enough” led to a feeling of not being “good enough.” If there has been one overriding benefit to writing a memoir that is mostly about “George,” it’s been that “I” have been able to finally see and understand all the things that stifled his expression , and by extension, mine. A feeling of not bad enough giving birth to a feeling of not good enough was found at the root of all; every single one of the failures.
I would never have understood that or overcome it if I had not, at last, finally and completely turned all of what is me/us/him to Abba to do with as he pleased. I finally came to the realization that The Maker, Abba, of the product, that’s me/us, is logically the one to guide its development, function and use. I wonder at times if George Washington Carver struggled with feelings of “not bad enough/not good enough.” After all he was born a slave, but died an educated, highly regarded scientist and inventor of the early twentieth century. Surely there were plenty of people who considered him “not good enough” because his skin was black. Do you think the fact that he had only “George” to worry about helped? Probably!
I may be late to the party, but I finally wanted to tell my story “bad enough” to get it done, and I finally felt “good enough” to get “Dear Mom and Dad,” published, and for people to gain from the reading of it. And … God willing there is still more of my history, past to re-live, present and future to live and subsequently share … with you.

Why Me?

In my “Nothing Notebook” there is an entry dated August 24, 2010 which reads: “When all the words have been written, the periods placed, the commas comma’d and the exclamations, exclaimed, I’m left with the repetitious question mark which followed the repeated “whys” of that return drive from Coolidge the day Marilyn left us. ‘Why? Why me?’ Why did God choose me to carry this cross? Did I volunteer, and if so, when?”

What didn’t follow that entry, but follows now is: “I certainly don’t remember a call for volunteers.” You would think that I’d have some memory of it; some faint recollections of The Angel of The Lord lining a bunch of us up one morning and in a serious tone of voice making the following announcement. “Okay all you guy spirits who are scheduled for placement in souls at various locations around the world in the next few days, Abba needs a volunteer for a special mission. Ah, not so fast. Wait until you hear the details of the mission before you jump up and down shouting ‘Me, me! Choose me!’ The details of this mission are not going to be available to your memory when you leave this meeting. The first detail you will soon forget is this. Whoever takes this mission on is going to have to share your assigned body and soul with a female spirit. You are going to be crammed into one soul which is going to go into a male body with rather slender, verging on dainty, features. Upon delivery you are both going to begin a sixty-plus year effort to figure out the mission.”
“Ah, I see that we’ve just lost all but a few volunteers. Not a problem. I still have a few suckers … I mean brave volunteers. Well, let me continue. The mission you’re going on, and will eventually figure out, is this. You are to find a way to bring a certain group of lost sheep back into the fold. This group of lost sheep is made up of souls whose physical attractions are not going to be considered normal. You see, down there on Earth mankind has lost sight of what’s really important to Abba. The majority of Abba’s people have concluded that since they’re “normal” and are only attracted to the opposite sex and wear clothing which reflects their acceptable compulsions, that anyone who isn’t like them is a bad person. They rely on some rather vague and generally misunderstood passages in the bible to support their opinions. The result is that a lot of these shunned sheep have reached the incorrect conclusion that since Abba created them the way they are, and then a bunch of people who claim to speak for Him have shunned them, that He really doesn’t care for them at all and will only associate with them if they force themselves to live like everyone else. And this, after he’s the one who created them the way He did. Your mission, should you decide to accept it will be to convince those lost sheep that they are okay just the way they are; the way Abba made them and furthermore that those ‘normal’ people do not speak for Him.
Yes … There’s a question from Spirit 7.
Why does this require two spirits to be crammed into one soul, specifically a male and a female in a male body?
Good question Spirit 7. The answer is actually quite simple. He wants these two volunteers to stick out like a sore thumb. Well, it looks like I’m left with just you two, Spirit 7 and Spirit 77. Looks like we have a team. Follow me.”

Now of course all this seems rather absurd on a certain level I know, but it does answer a lot of questions doesn’t it?

My Heroes

Aside from Jesus, my three favorites; make that “heroes”; of the scriptures are David, Job and hapless Gideon. From David I learned that sincerity is the key to Abba’s heart. Even after David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then plotted, arranged and facilitated the dastardly murder of the faithful Uriah, and then helped himself to Uriah’s widow, Abba forgave him. But David was only forgiven after he confessed, sincerely repented of his crime and begged for forgiveness. The result of his sincerity was a life of joy and success; the birth of a son who would be heralded for all time as the wisest man to have ever lived.

Job on the other hand didn’t have a clue as to the reason for all his suffering and loss. He was baffled because he knew in his heart of hearts that he’d committed no sin that would justify what had happened to him. To make matters worse, his buddies, his pals and confidants, accused him of having done something horrible and trying to hide it through denial. To top it all off his bride, the woman who bore his children, suggested he just end the misery and die. With that kind of support who would have blamed him for giving up and taking the short route. The lesson of Job was that he was honest with Abba and his friends, and refused to confess guilt when he was innocent. The result there was not only a return of all he’d lost but that it was returned twofold.

I even have to confess a genuine affection for poor Gideon. There he was, working away at threshing grain in the bottom of a winepress so the Midianites wouldn’t know what he was up to and suddenly he’s interrupted by “The Angel of the Lord” who says to him, “Hey dude, you are one lucky guy. God’s gonna give you a hand.”
Oh really? Says Gideon, if I’m so lucky then why am I threshing grain in a winepress? And now that I think about it where are all those miracles the folks have been tellin’ us about for years? Hmm?
And Abba says, “Yeah, well don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m promoting you to Five Star General and you’re gonna take your army out and run the Midianites out of town.”
Well, apparently Gideon has no doubt about to whom he’s speaking but he certainly has doubts about the wisdom of the assignment because he says to Abba, “Are you nuts? You’re telling me that the “half” tribe of Manasseh, the weakest clan of the bunch by the way, led by the puniest guy of that bunch is gonna take the Midianites to the woodshed? Yeah, right! Who are you kidding?
Abba says “Don’t sweat the small stuff General. Everything is gonna be just fine.”
“Yeah, well if you really are The Lord you’re gonna have to prove it. Wait here and I’ll be right back.”
“Okay! I’ll wait.”
So Gideon runs home, whips up nice picnic lunch and dashes back, lays out a nice spread for The Lord who immediately zaps it all with his flame throwing staff. Then He takes off … vanishes. Then His voice is heard. “Proof enough General?”
“Yep. I think that’ll do. So now what?
What follows for General Gideon is more do this’s and do that’s until it’s time to actually deal with the Midianites. What does Abba do then? He says, “General … We need to make this effort really impressive. You know how Israelites are. They’ll think they did it without any help. I want you to send a bunch of your guys home, so tell all the wimps to pack up and beat it out of here.”
Then, Abba says, “Nope, still too many.” After another sorting process determined by the way the men drank water from the stream. Gideon is left with only 300 men and Abba says. “Now that will be an impressive win, don’t you think?” And it was.

Where’s all this leading to you ask. It’s leading to a comparison between me, my bank account and my feeling that Abba has been trimming my “resources,” to prove a point. Just what point He wants to prove I’m not certain. I admit that I’m probably not as innocent of wrong as Job, but I am just as confused as he was. So … late last night I found myself wandering about the neighborhood engaged in the “David routine;” crying, complaining; actually a more accurate description of what I was doing would be to say that I was whining and bitching. And, I was not keeping it to myself either. Although I was complaining to Abba, I was sharing my woe with anyone within earshot. I went on for about an hour until I felt better and felt I’d made my point.

I think that David’s Psalms reflect that experience often … and he did almost always manage to end on a positive note so I will too. I feel much better now and guess what? Abba is still in charge so …
“Wait here! I’ll be right back.”


In the world of people considered “gender-variant” the word “acceptance” carries a significance which “normies” (that’s normal people to us) don’t often understand. Acceptance, to be complete, must be two parts; self and other. In society at large, everyone seeks acceptance, both self and other, and surprisingly other acceptance seems to be far easier to acquire. All you have to do is “look” acceptable and “act” acceptable. It’s pretty much all a visual thing. The measure, or standard of acceptability, however, is something which is generally established, first by family; parents and grandparents primarily. At least that was my experience and I’ve seen little else to dissuade me of that impression. But what happens when the acceptable “look” or “act” of others, runs contrary to the acceptance of self? Conflict!

Conflict usually results in a winner and a loser, but all too often there are only losers. Win-win situations are seldom the result. No one wants to be a loser; to live in a situation that leaves one with a sense that they are un-acceptable. When that occurs the result is black make-up, florescent hair, a body that looks like the impulse-buy rack at the Wal-mart checkout stand. But at least the pin-cushion teenager feels a degree of acceptance from their peers. And while society in general thinks “oh dear me” there are no laws to prohibit the “look”. Nor are there pandering politicians introducing laws to ban it, so eventually the “look” reaches acceptability, that is, as long as the individual expressing the “look” and acting the “act” appears to accept themselves, they are “acceptable.” After all … for the most part, they’re still looking like the sex they were born into.

I can, and have, gone on ad nauseam about society’s disproportionate treatment of the “gender-variant” community compared to the treatment of the remainder of the LGBT community. But this isn’t really about society … this is about family. Family is where attitudes of acceptable behavior and “being” are birthed. A normal family has two sets of relatives; father’s side and mother’s side. I happen to come from a family which is made up of loving and caring people on both sides, but the way those two sides deal with and accept “abnormal” behavior; read that “me”, is polar opposite. I can deal with the disapproval of the one half because I genuinely believe they care. But, when it comes to my children, that is another issue altogether.

One of them, my daughter, is genuinely accepting. The youngest son is reserved but not critical. The oldest however, delivered a real e-mail punch in the gut for a New Year’s Eve present. Without the painful details suffice it to say that even after reading the original manuscript of “Dear Mom and Dad” and the explanations of the co-existence of me and his father, he has concluded that his father no longer exists. He’s concluded, and his “judgment” is that because he doesn’t understand he therefore doesn’t approve. Therefore, his further “judgment” is that I no longer have a place in his life. I can and will live with that decision on his part. I just wish it wasn’t so. He hasn’t made that “judgment” of my sister, his lesbian aunt. After all, her lifestyle is not visible and therefore doesn’t require explanations to his son who is being raised in a backwoods bubble.

I have concluded that God created families with the express purpose of forcing us to deal with difficult people and the most painful of rejections by people we cannot avoid. Otherwise we could go our entire lives never having to face the pain that families too often inflict.

You don’t suppose do you, that our Heavenly Parent … God to most people, can relate to the sense of rejection by His children the way we earthlings do?