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There was a woman a few years back, arrested for getting into a fight with the pumpkins at the grocery store. Is she a soul sister or what? That woman has been in my prayers for a few years now, no doubt someone who struggles with addiction and mental health issues, but she captured my heart. I so empathize with those who can have a proper public meltdown in the produce section of the grocery store.

When the pumpkins started arriving in August, I too had some choice words to say to them. Can we just have summer before we have Halloween? No, no we cannot.

I was with my mother the other day when I caught sight of an ugly pumpkin, a little blue-green thing covered in warts, and so I exclaimed, “what an ugly little pumpkin!” By ugly I meant cute, like the way ugly little dogs are cute, but my mother who never misses an opportunity to point out my flaws, promptly declared, “why do you have to be so insensitive and judgmental?”

You have to love my mother, she can put the feelings and emotional life of an inanimate object, a squash, above my own. And so, with a look of disgust and disapproval, she left me standing there contemplating whether or not I had offended the poor little pumpkin, perhaps hurt its feelings.

These thoughts only lasted about ten seconds, because I am well aware that pumpkins don’t actually have feelings, and I am well aware I am actually not judgmental and insensitive, the precise opposite really,  as in so empathetic and non judgmental, I have really had to develop some protective skills, some powers of discernment, some firm boundaries.

There’s a great Proverb that applies here, 25:28, He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. I have had to learn how to rule my own spirit, how to wrestle it away from my mother. We all must do that to some extent, to separate ourselves from our parents, a natural and healthy process, in most cases. Unless one of your parents is a narcissist and you are their narcissistic supply, in which case that natural untwinning can be much more difficult.

This is an interesting dance to me, the dance between the empaths and the narcissists. It’s a very common dynamic, especially with narcissistic parents, that at least one child will develop some highly tuned in empathy. We are constantly forced to read and sense feelings, to sort out what is right beneath the surface, to discard the rubbish, and to attempt to rationalize our way out of what is often much like being trapped in a fun house hall of mirrors.

Skillz, one develops some genuine skillz.

That’s what I was doing in front of the ugly little blue-green pumpkin covered in warts, sorting out and rationalizing, observing pumpkins are not actually sentient beings, separating myself from my mother’s words, recognizing that she speaks only to herself, that I am nothing more than a reflective hologram to her, someone to project herself onto, just a mirror really.

And grieving too, the loss of this foundational and fundamental relationship, my mother’s brokenness rendering her unable to simply laugh at an ugly wart covered pumpkin with her daughter, her daughter she cannot even see. But that sadness is fleeting, it passes quickly now, because I am so blessed, so redeemed, the Lord having taken my ashes and made something beautiful out of them, returning what was stolen ten fold. He has washed away regrets and the ache of longing, the mourning over what never was. That brief sadness that floats by sometimes, is not sadness for myself, but a testimony to the kind of love I now know.

Today I can honestly say, I am blessed to have had such a training ground, to have been tossed in the fire, to have been forced to dive into those dark places where our souls sometimes dance.