I’ve been asked if there is one moment, one passage in Dear Mom and Dad that, in my mind stands out. The answer to that is. ”Yes!” Absolutely. Here it is:
“George and Marilyn were having a romantic bath together in their big bathtub. They had poured a couple of drinks and probably had a couple of lines. Marilyn was shaving her legs … and that’s when it happened. She took a couple of playful swipes with the razor on George’s left thigh.
“Wanna shave, cowboy?”
In that one instant, with that one simple act, she unwittingly opened the door to that closet where I’d been hiding all the time. It was the beginning of his comprehending the emotions he’d been experiencing all his life, but not understanding. He thought he wanted to be like Marilyn; he didn’t know it was me, but then he still didn’t know I existed. The emotions he was experiencing for the first time were in reality the result of the emergence of my spirit. What he felt in that instant was a desire to shave his legs and put on Marilyn’s clothes. He thought he wanted to know what it was like to be her and before the night was over, like a newborn emerging for the first time, there I was. Understanding why I was there and in what capacity was just beginning.“
That was indeed the moment of moments. In the following years I have attempted to single out other moments, other points in time that have had such a remarkable and long lasting effect on me and the way I live my life but I have not been successful in that attempt.
There have of course been other moments and events that contributed, some more than others, to the direction and outcome of my life, but they somehow pale in comparison. What I write about at this point in my life is not so much about “How I Got This Way” as where life is going this way.
One evening last week I spent a couple of hours with my “brother” Pastor Jabowa Whitehead, whom I have in the recent past had some serious differences with. We have mended out relationship and at this point are moving on with our shared mission. We were discussing that mission last night and are in complete agreement that, regardless of our basic differences politically, we will work together to share with anyone who will listen our vision of what Christianity was meant to be, not what it has become … thank you Constantine.
Christ wasn’t about clothes. He wasn’t about bodies. He was about loving and using the gifts we were given to help others.
Without that one moment, shared above, I have my doubts that my life would have developed a purpose as important as the one I now work toward achieving. But who knows. Life may have just taken an even more circuitous route but ended up in the same place. I just know that in the process of writing Dear Mom and Dad, not only was I forced to a high level of honesty about myself and my actions in life, I also came to accept that another moment in my life may well have been the precursor to the bathtub incident. That moment occurred in the cafeteria of Colorado State University in the spring of 1964. That was the moment I accepted the invitation to turn my life over to Christ. Soon after that I began to pursue a course that was, in essence saying to Christ, “Okay, it’s your life now. If you want me to do anything with it, make me.”
When I finally achieved sobriety and was able for the first time to view the totality of my life through sober eyes I came face to face with the reality of my life. That reality was a belief that when I turned my life over to Christ, He wasn’t going to let me take it back. He did however let me go my own way, the way of failure through alcohol and to a lesser degree drugs, until those things left me with nowhere to turn but back to Him. And that I did. Not all at once mind you, but eventually, totally and completely.
The third step of Alcoholics Anonymous is: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” No one had ever said anything to me about my will having anything to do with the course of my life. Of course I soon realized that, that was the root of my problem.
It is said that God never wastes anything … or anybody. We do that to ourselves, but He will use everything about us to accomplish what He wants to accomplish through us. I have used an analogy about my life and God that goes like this:
I was like a child who was given a present, a gift, a precious toy. Upon receiving the gift, I immediately tore open the package, removed the toy, and in my desire to proceed to play with the toy, I first ignored and then finally lost track of the instruction manual that came with the toy. Eventually, as one might expect, the toy quit working the way it was intended to work, so I took it to Dad and asked him to fix it for me. He began making the necessary repairs but before he could complete the repair, I reached for the toy and said, “That’s good enough, I want it back now.” Dad of course obliged even though he knew what would happen.
Well, of course it was soon dysfunctional once again and the same scenario played out all over … and over … and over … and over, until at last I handed the dysfunctional, unusable and damaged toy to Dad and asked once more time if He would fix it for me. This time I didn’t interfere with the repairs. I waited until Dad came to me with the toy totally restored to full working order and gave it back to me. This time He also gave me the discarded instruction manual and said, “Here, child. Now read the instructions and follow them if you truly want the toy, the gift, to really work the way I intended when I gave it to you.”
I’ve learned much from my hours in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.But there is a plaque hanging in one of the meeting places that reads as follows:
‘What we are is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to God.”