Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekly Word for May 12 - 19, 2006

I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; . . .
On the day I called Thou didst answer me;
Thou didst make me bold with strength in my soul.

(Psalm 138: 1 & 3)

"If today you were given the chance to go back to a certain age in your life and start over from there, what age would you choose?" This was the question that was written on a web board that I visit. As I thought about the question, so many thoughts ran through my mind. I knew that I had made many mistakes in my life, and that I had hurt others. But I also knew, that each moment in time that I had lived - had led to this moment - to the person I am now.

After thinking about the question, I wrote down my answer - and then shut down the computer. Later that day, I showed the question to Ted. I also showed him my answer - and the answers of others. Some had disagreed with me, knowing that they regretted some of their choices over the years. Some answered simply - about failed marriages and missed opportunities. And then one person wrote: “I would have never been born.” . . .

When I read that answer - I could feel the heartache inside of my whole being. What had made this person feel this way? As I thought about it, I couldn’t help but think back over my own life. It hasn’t always been easy. And for sure, I have many regrets. But would I go back? Would I change - - - anything . . .

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me;
Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And thy right hand will save me.
(Psalm 138: 7)

I had to be about 8 or 9 years old, that day so long ago. It was in a time and a place where parents let their children walk alone on the streets. It was a time when people weren’t quite so afraid. My friend needed to go “uptown” to get her mom some cigarettes. So she asked if I could go with her. I ran inside of the house, and told my parents that I was going to go with my friend. I don’t remember what they said, or if there were any questions asked, I just remember going with her.

We headed up to Main Street, where all the activity went on in a little town like ours. There was a drug store, and a library, and even a couple of churches. But we were headed for the “News Room”. That’s what it was called, the central store - right on the corner of Main Street. The store was owned by a friend of ours, and I was always in awe of her and her parents. She could go right up to the candy counter, whenever she wanted to, and take what she liked. For an 8 year old, that seemed like pure heaven!

As we walked, my friend showed me the money her mom had given her. There was enough for the cigarettes, and then there was a little more for my friend to get a treat. All the way there, we talked about what she might buy. She thought about candy, but then decided she wanted an ice cream. She didn’t ask me if I wanted anything. After all, I never had any money. That was just how things were. When we got to the store, my friend bought the cigarettes, and then she went over to the ice cream cooler. There, she pulled out one of my very favorite ice creams. As she went to pay the man, I stood there staring at the cooler. I wanted an ice cream, and it didn’t matter that I had no money. I still wanted it! So while my friend was up at the front of the store, I carefully reached inside of the cooler - taking what I wanted. Then, I slipped out of the door . . .
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord . . .
Depart from evil, and do good;
Seek peace, and pursue it.
(Psalm 34: 11 & 14)

Regrets - - - I felt terrible, the minute I left the store. I couldn’t eat the ice cream! And so I threw it away - lying to my friend about how I had gotten it. The guilt I felt afterwards, remained with me for quite a while. And then, as I grew older - there were other times of feeling guilty - times full of regrets . . .

The righteous cry and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
(Psalm 34: 17)

As I stood there in her room, I saw dolls and toys everywhere. She had a dollhouse sitting in the corner, and I could see all the little furniture and animals in the different rooms. Standing there, I couldn’t help but feel the pain of my own childhood - wishing for some of what was here in this room. I had bought each and every doll and toy for her - hoping to give my little daughter all the things that I never had.

But I had another wish for my daughter as well. I wished that she had a better “mommy” - someone who was healthier and stronger. Someone - who didn’t hurt as much as I did . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 18)

I was a mess, and friends knew it! With gentle guidance, Norma suggested that I go to see a counselor that she knew. “Deb, you need help!” she said. And reluctantly, I agreed. I soon learned though, that counseling doesn’t immediately make everything all better. I had lived through a lot of abuse and neglect growing up, and then my marriage wasn’t in the best of conditions. So it was a pretty messy “mommy” that my children came home to each day. I was seeing the counselor at least twice a week, and the emotions that were stirred up, were sometimes those of a very young child. I cried a lot, and was angry quite a bit - all emotions that needed to finally come out of me. I had lived a life of brokenness, and finally I was asking God to fix me. But my children didn’t know what to think - as their mom wasn‘t doing a very good job of taking care of them.

For over two years, my husband and children put up with a wife and mother who acted more like a child at times. As I look back, I realize that I truly was getting healthier and stronger. But in the middle of it - - - it felt awful!

One day, when my children were about 12 and 8, my husband decided that we would go on a family outing. So we went to an amusement park. I was very tired and really didn’t feel very good that day. So I sat watching the kids and my husband going on the rides most of the day. As I watched them come off one of the rides, I saw that Jenny was crying. Her dad was yelling at her, which made her cry even harder. As I continued to watch - she looked over at me - pleading for help. She had somehow gotten hurt, and wanted someone to comfort her. But her father didn’t have the patience to deal with her. “I want my mommy!” she cried. And then my heart broke, as he turned her away from me - telling her that I was too sick to help her . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, . . .

My heart broke that day, wishing that I was someone else. At that moment, I wished that I was stronger - that I had never gone into counseling - that I had never been abused or molested. I wished that “I” wasn’t her mother . . .

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Regrets? - - - I have had many.

Mike and his dad have always had an “up and down” relationship. Being a typical teen-ager, Mike did a few things - just to “get” his father! He was about 16 or so, when he decided to go get a haircut. Mike came running into the house, wanting to show us his new hair cut. Most of his hair was shaved off. But right down the middle, he had a “Mohawk” that was pulled back into a pony tail. As he stopped in the middle of the dining room, I burst out laughing. I quickly turned around, trying to hide how funny I thought he looked. But as I did, I caught his eyes, and saw the glimmer of laughter there as well. Then we both waited, wondering what his father would say. We didn’t wait very long though, as a roar soon filled the house. He started yelling and screaming, and no amount of telling him that it was “only hair” - and that it would grow back - helped. The laughter was gone in an instant, and anger filled the room. Afterwards, I could only shake my head - wondering at this man - and his anger . . .

Everything was always a battle between the two of them. His father didn’t seem to notice the good things that I saw in Mike. He was always yelling at him, always criticizing him. And then one day, Mike couldn’t take it any more. He was so upset! That was the day that I heard him say: “I wish I was dead!” My heart just about stopped, and terror filled my being - as I thought about what he was saying. I loved him so much - and I wanted to make things better! But my son had been hurt again . . .

That evening, I found a counselor for Mike, and our whole family. I told my husband that he had to go - that his son needed help. And he grudgingly agreed. For a while, things between the kids and their dad did get better. But our marriage continued to get worse, and a few years later - I finally left.

Mike was 19 when I left his dad. It broke my heart, that day when I left him behind. I told him that I loved him, and I wondered if he would ever understand. I was leaving his father, but for Mike, it still must have felt like I was leaving him. As I settled into living in a small house with his sister, Mike continued to live in the same house with his dad. And then one day he called me. “Mom, I can’t take it any more . . .” he said. “I will be right there” I told him. And I raced over to the house . . . .

Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
(Psalm 34: 19)

When I drove up the driveway that day, I could see the fury on his father’s face. I don’t remember what they had fought about, all I remember is their faces. His dad’s was full of anger - and Mike looked so defeated. As I drove away with Mike in the car, I had no clue how to make things better.

That day, I listened to my son tell me all about the hurt he felt from his father. “I can’t do anything right” he said. And I understood exactly how he felt. I made him some supper, and told him he could stay. But after talking with his dad, he decided to go back home. As I drove him back to his father‘s house, I fought back the tears. I wished that I was stronger. For that one moment, I wished that I hadn’t left his father. I wished that somehow, I could help my son . . .

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out - transgressions.

(Psalm 51: 1)

Regrets . . . Over my lifetime, I have had many! When I read the question that was posted on the web board, I thought about all the things that I have lived through. I thought about all the mistakes I had made - - - and the wishes I had - for my children . . .

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
(Psalm 51: 2 & 3)

Regrets . . . We all have them. Through the years, I have learned to give everything to the Lord - for healing. I can’t fix my children’s hurts. But I can pray for them, asking God to heal them - and fill their lives with good things. And then - - - I have to let go . . .

Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part - Thou wilt make me know wisdom.
Purify me . . ., and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalm 51: 6 - 8)

When I look at my two children, I know that they are “who” they are - because of all that has happened in their lifetimes. Each is uniquely made, through the mistakes I and their father made. Mike now works in engineering, and is a husband and a father. He has a heart that is full of compassion and love. Jenny works in a home for children who have been through abuse or neglect. She has an amazing gift for helping these little ones to find hope and healing. Both my children - are such amazing young adults! How can I regret “who” my children have become?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.

(Psalm 51: 10 & 12)

Regrets - moments that we wish had been different - times when we wish we could change what happened in our lives. Each day, we have a choice to make. We can choose to live that day - to the fullest it can be. Or, we can choose to “live” in our regrets - holding on to them - and dieing each day because of them.

When I read that one person’s answer: “I would have never been born.” - my heart hurt. It isn’t easy - looking at the times in our lives that hurt - that are full of regrets and shame. But God gives each of us a promise. He promises to take those moments - and heal our broken hearts.

“For I am with you,” declares the Lord, “to save you;”
“For I will restore you to health - and I will heal you of your wounds,” declares the Lord,
(Jeremiah 30: 11 & 17)

"If today you were given the chance to go back to a certain age in your life and start over from there, what would you choose?" As I think about this question, my answer has to remain the same. I wouldn’t go back and change anything. I love “who” I am now. I love my husband, my children, and my grandchildren. If I had never married my first husband, I would not have those two children. If I had never been abused, I wouldn’t have searched so hard for help - and then worked to become a minister and counselor - to help others. And if Ted and I hadn’t been through the bad marriages - we might not have found each other. I am so glad to have him in my life today. What do I choose? I try to choose to “live” each day, loving my family and the Lord - and then I try to give everything else - - - to Him . . .

What will you choose?

“I have set before you today life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life - in order that you may live, . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

God bless you, and keep you, in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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