Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Breaking the Silence

I have been a writer nearly all my life. Yet that's news to most people, even those closest to me. I generally write just for me -- anyone with a journal-habit knows how therapeutic this is. But over 17 years ago I saw a reason and a need to share what I write with others. I painfully admit, since then, only a handful of my essays have been read by anyone. Today that changes, I'm breaking the silence. I've been considering publishing my essays on a blog for over 6 months now. Today is that "someday" I've been talking about. . . . Here is the essay I wrote back in 1993, when I first realized my writing had to be made public:

Relatives from around the country are gathered here in Iowa for my mother's funeral. Many of these people I haven't seen in several years. I was able to meet my uncle's "new" wife today. They've been married for more than 20 years. His first wife died very young from breast cancer. I didn't know her very well, but I remember she was the organist at our church. I like his new wife, she talks about her Lord and what He's been doing in her life. I wish we had more than a few hours together. Tomorrow we'll be scattered again -- me to California and they to Arkansas.

This meeting is painfully similar to another about ten years ago. It was then that I first met my grandfather's "new" wife. They too had been married for several years. His first wife had died from complications with diabetes. I didn't know her very well either, but I remember she was in church as often as her health would allow. And I liked his new wife too, she talked about her Lord and what He was doing in her life. And just like today, I wished then we had more than a few hours together.

Both of these men, my grandfather and my uncle, are strangers to me. The fact is, I only know their faces. Their lives are a mystery -- shrouded in years of silence. Their new wives are wonderfully open and joyful about their faith. I'd like to hope that within these men that same joy lives. But the truth is, I can't know for sure, they've never let me see that side of them. Silence runs deep in my family.

I suppose my uncle and my mother's dad are both Christian men. Why else would their new wives, such godly women, be drawn to marry them? But I just don't know. If church-going and being married to a godly woman will get you into heaven, then these men will be there. But surely there must be more. I pray their lives away from me are vibrantly faithful and filled with worship and service for our Lord. But I fear their silence.

I look over all the "things" my mother has left behind and I'm sick. What I ache for is a diary or anything that will let me know her heart. I don't really want these earthly baubles. Yet I know I will cling to them because this is all I have now. But what I desperately need is to know her heart, and this she didn't leave me.

The pastor of my mother's church is being very kind and saying how much he appreciated my mother's faithful attendance at his mid-week Bible study. But in the 15 years since my leaving home, she never mentioned to me that she did this. She never told me. Among her things we find a certificate awarded to her by the community. It says that after work she spent time helping underprivileged children learn to read. But again, I never knew, she never told me. One of her co-workers is handing me a crocheted book-marker in the form of a cross. She tells me Mom was her prayer partner and had made that for her. She thinks I would like to have it. But I never knew of her prayer life, she never told me. My heart breaks. . . .

Months have now passed since my mother's funeral. The silence is still deafening. And yet all I can do is think of my own children. Do they know me? Is my life an open book for them to read? Or have I failed to even write the pages for them? When my life is over, will they be left aching to have known my heart?

These generations of silence must be broken by me. I want them to know my heart and find me rejoicing in all my Lord Jesus has done for me. This will be the inheritance I leave for my family and friends.

Mark 5:19 "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."

Journal Suggestions:

Are there silences that need breaking in any of your relationships?

Describe the spiritual inheritance you have from your family.

Please use this link if you haven’t yet read my story, “Shattered Silence” which was added to this blog in 2013.

1 comment:

  1. This is great, Barbara! Thank you for sharing.
    I am happy to know my blogs have helped at least one, and by you now blogging we will both be getting the Word out there. As the song goes "If I can help somebody as I pass along--then my living will not be in vain." Carol