Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Being A Journey Junkie

A dear friend, Owen is back with his blog about his journey from being a Prostestant Pastor to becoming a person of the Roman Catholic faith. I commented on his new/old blog today that I think I am a journey junkie. Except I spelled it journey junky....ah well, my journey does indeed feel junky at times. C'est la vie. None of it is headed towards the junkyard but to that wonderful journey dwelling place in the sky. Hah.

While in the mall yesterday I met two different women whose journeys and mine have intersected on occasion for over 20 years. I have a deep desire to be present to others and yesterday was a beautiful opportunity to do just that. I see these women only a few times a year and yesterday they filled me in on where their journey has taken them since we last talked.

One of the women was our babysitter when our daughter was a newborn. She loved our daughter as much as possible without being her parent. We have watched this woman grow from teenagehood to being the mother of 5 children of her own. She is PASSIONATE about motherhood. Her own disturbing scars and bruises of childhood haven't deterred her as she pours her heart and soul into mothering her children in the opposite direction that she was mothered. With her youngest in school she is now pursuing a career that will enable her to care for them if anything should ever happen to her husband. He is not so enthusiastic about her growing independence. No amount of assurance on her part that she is not planning on leaving him (or killing him for that matter) will lessen his discomfort that she will soon be able to provide for her family if he cannot.

When I saw the radiance on her face as she told me of her 97% average in school I could not help but be thrilled for her. I encouraged her to do what she must to achieve her dreams. Career or no career will not guarantee a melding of two hearts into one in her marriage. We must be our partners' greatest cheerleader not their greatest adversary. I found out the hard way that the world will not recognize the education that managing a home and children for 20 years gives a person. When my turn came to provide for our family after a 16 year absence in the workforce I had to settle for a minimum wage job because no one took my homemaking skills seriously. My training as a journalist in 1980/81 did not hit their radar screens either. It was a radical wake up call. It made me wish I had either taken courses over the years or worked part time to keep in the loop. I used to believe that being a full time homemaker was the only viable option for any woman. I do believe it is a calling but I no longer believe it is the only calling a mother can have. Sometimes I just shock myself that I can change opinions that were once set in cement. I have come to learn that cemented opinions of mine were often poured in concrete out of fear. (That's another post for another day.)

The other woman worked alongside her husband when my husband was one of their employees. This woman worked hard. She took the brunt of her alcoholic husband's outbursts. She not only worked beside him day by day ( on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week) but she also managed a home and raised 3 kids. The one Christmas that we shared found them with a few meager gifts wrapped in newspaper under the tree. The tension in the air was so thick it was hard to breathe. The dad took refuge in the basement in his booze. The unpredictability of his actions set us all on edge. It was as if we ate our turkey dinner cautiously, not knowing whether we would need to pick up our plates and run at any given moment. We were newlyweds and I had my own alcohol problems. It was much easier to point fingers at his though than entertain the notion that I might be a fellow pilgrim on the same journey.

His wife eventually left him. She waited until the kids were about grown. When we moved back up to this part of the world I met her daughter in the mall one day as she was shopping with her young daughter. She introduced me by saying, "Remember that Barbie doll in my hope chest? This is the woman who bought it for my twelfth birthday." It turned out it was the only Barbie doll of her childhood. A cherished possession and a cherished memory. I have no memory of buying it for her. I just remember this scared little girl who walked on eggshells lest her dad erupt in anger. I often invited her over to bake cookies or let her puppy play with our own. I remember that I identified with her tense little body that held itself closed in on itself. She had a wariness in her eyes which said that a flight or freeze mode might be necessary at any moment.

Her mom must be about 60 years old now and yesterday she told me that all three of her adult children have come back to God in the past few years. With tears in her eyes she was full of gratitude to God for being bigger than the pain of years gone by. She has been such a woman of prayer for so long. It was thrilling to hear what God has done in this family's life.

Isn't that what we all hope for? That no matter how deep the pain or how rough the road that God will be bigger than it all? That God hunkers down in the painful places with us as we journey towards wholeness and healing? And maybe that is what fuels my being a journey junkie. I need companions on the journey. When I follow your journeys I gain strength for my own. When I see healing in your journey in places where I am still waiting for it, I feel encouraged to keep my face turned towards the Truth. Some of you are hunkered down with me right now, waiting and praying as I journey towards wholness and healing. Thank you.

Hi, my name is Hope and I am a journey junkie.

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