When I was a kid, back before seat belts and air quality were a thing, I often rode around in the back of a car perched among the baggage. One day I got really light-headed, dizzy, car sick, and my parents lacking any parenting skills decided they just didn’t want to deal with me and the mess I might make. So they stopped the car and told me I had to get out and walk.
It wasn’t until years later when I had my own kids that I realized how cruel and unnatural this was. Our urge as mothers when our kids are sick is usually to comfort them, to care for them, to reassure them. They had simply set me down on the side of the highway and drove off.
I was about five at the time and in an instant I learned perfectionism. It was not okay to be vulnerable in any way, or weak, or to have needs, and if you get sick you’re obviously just doing it deliberately to be an inconvenience to those around you. There were lots of toxic messages that got implanted that day while walking down the highway in the fog smelling the Brussel sprouts. Could have been cabbages, all I know is that there were fields and they really stunk to high heaven. I also know that as I walked my head began to clear and my stomach settled. I gulped in that stinky air like it was life itself.
They did eventually come back for me and I remember feeling somewhat disappointed as I saw the car approaching. I had begun to feel better, and to dream about making a new life there in the fog, on a long-lost highway….
So I kind of grew up with some trauma, with some toxic messages implanted in me, and with these doubts and fears, like where was God in all this? I actually hid all my anger and fear in cynicism, sarcasm, bitterness, and never-ending gallows humor.
I finally confronted God with that question, an accusation really, So where were you? Why did you abandon me? In an instant He rewrote the whole story, He changed everything, He told me the truth. Where was God? Saving my life. Protecting me from carbon monoxide, freeing me from laying there in the back of the car falling asleep, sucking on the end of a leaky tail pipe. I didn’t get that clear revelation about where God was in that situation until years later, but even when I got back in the car that day, I somehow knew to keep that little triangle window cracked and to make sure I was breathing in fresh air.
My parents probably saved my life that day too, whether they realized it or not. Sometimes when we get entangled in our own offense, hurt, rejection, abandonment, we lack the eyes to really see the bigger picture. Forgiving people for their flaws and imperfections can come much easier when we learn to trust in the sovereign goodness of God. Had I been them, I would have done a whole lot of things differently, but either way, no one has the power to thwart the Lord’s purpose. They probably saved my life that day.
I needed fresh air, asap. I got fresh air. Well, except for those Brussel sprouts.
Many times the Lord has rewritten the whole story for me. He is good that way. He has changed everything, He has said, Now wait a minute, I never left you, I was always right there. Don’t you see me walking right beside you?
And when that happens it is bit like a Jenga puzzle, an unstable tower you’ve built on deceptions, on toxic, implanted messages that did not tell the whole story. God will help you see things as they really are and to rewrite those stories.
And so a bit like a Jenga puzzle, my tower of perfectionism that was born that day long ago, simply fell right over into a sad little heap. I am laughing here, it is actually not sad at all, and I love nothing more than to see a good collapsed Jenga puzzle scattered about the table…..