~*~ My two oldest children, Lemur (9) and Rivulet (6), love to hear stories of my youth. They call them “Family History Stories” and more often than not they take the place of music in the car or a Dr. Seuss at bedtime. Recently they have been asking about my theatrical escapades. I have told them many funny stories from the early days at TPP, but then felt I could use a refresher and so turned to my journals for inspiration. On December 1, 2012, as I was laughing over a journal entry about Jared burning his mouth on hot chocolate, Lemur came down the stairs and asked what was so funny. I gave them a brief rundown of who Jared was. How we’d met when I was 14, and were in plays together for years. I mentioned that we had dated and were such good friends we wrote the entire time he was on his mission!
“Do you still have any of the letters, Mom?” Rivulet asked excitedly.
“Nope; because just before I married your dad I decided to get rid of everything that any other boy had ever given me.”
“Even the bear?!” she asked in shock. (Referring to the bear Jared had given me for Christmas in 1996)
“Even the bear,” I said. “I thought it was what I had to do to move on.” Lemur nodded his head sagely and I continued, “You want to know the worst part, though? He called not too long after and asked for the letters back.”
Lemur's eyes grew wide with anticipation of a story and he asked, “What did he say when you told him, Mom?”
“I didn’t tell him,” I admitted. “I said, “Oh, well, we just moved and it may take me a while to find them. Then I never called him back.” I even told them about the Edelweiss, a gift he had sent me for Christmas one year. As it turned out, it was the only one he'd ever found while on his mission in Austria. He'd sent it to me for safe-keeping and I'd thrown it in the garbage. I tried to tell the story with my usual comedic flair.
But my children didn’t find it one bit funny. In fact, they were outraged! “Mom! That was a lie! You lied to your friend!”
“But I was scared and ashamed,” I said. “How could I tell him what I’d done?”
Lemur looked at me sternly, “You need to make it right. You need to tell him what you did and say you are sorry.”
“Oh please,” I countered, “It’s been 11 years. I’m sure it doesn’t even matter anymore.” And with that I put the journal back into the cedar chest with all the others. It is at this point that my husband pipes up; I didn’t even know he’d been listening.
“It still bothers you, Sayyadina. Every time you talk about it you cry; the kids are right.”And almost immediately I got this idea: to compile what I have of Jared’s life and his influence on my life into one place and give it to him, so that I might ask for his forgiveness. ~*~
And so for the last two weeks I have rifled through my cedar chest, 14 journals, computer documents, files and scrapbooks to find every last entry of my first date, my first kiss, my first love. And then I typed them all into one document - absent of my signature sappy-ness - and have been preparing to give this record to him.
A few years ago when it was cool to do so, people were doing that "If the world ended who would you be in your primitive village as you rebuilt the world" thing on facebook. And I had answered that I would be the historian. I have a knack for it. I didn't realize how true that statement was.
I have since compiled over 60 pages of journal entries, stories, events and written memories about the times when this boy's life and mine intertwined. I had encouraged him for YEARS to keep his own journal. I have evidence of it, as I recorded that in Christmas of 1996 I had actually GIVEN him a journal of his own. And yet.... Well, this isn't the point of the story.
I was ashamed. I had carried for 11 years the guilt of throwing away literally hundreds of pages of this boy's history written in his own hand and then lying to him about it. He was a better friend than that. No matter anything else, he did not deserve to be lied to. And I have been not only carrying that guilt, but I've been punishing myself for the action.
Well, not anymore pal!
While making this record, I have been able to see with complete clarity how important he was to me. And the hand of God is blindingly evident in these events. I can see how fear and self-hatred coupled with attention and genuine affection to become a bastard emotion: co-dependant "love." Whatever I knew of myself before our romantic relationship was lost when that particular relationship ended. But it was never his fault. I gave myself up, because previous events he'd had no part in had taught me that what I was was "wrong," "too much" or otherwise "unloveavble." I can see now that I was looking for a big brother to protect me and tell me that I was loved. I was looking for that singular feeling of acceptence that comes from an older sibling and no one else. I was looking for my brother, John.
Again - not the point of the story.
Ahem. Long story short (too late!) I took three days after finishing the compilation to work up the guts to call this guy and ask when he'd be in town next or if I could mail it to him. We talked for a few minutes. And he asked me the purpose of my curiosity. Since we hadn't spoken in - oh - 6 years, it was a valid question. I confessed to him my wrong. I apologized. I told him I was attempting to make what restitution I could with this record. And he forgave me. How could I have ever doubted that he would? Above everything else, and before anything else, he had been a friend. He proved it again. In fact, he admitted he was "excited" to get to read the chronicle, as he could not remember much of anything from the years I had recorded.
And so here is the point of the story: Repentance. Forgiveness. Letting go. Humility. Faith. And the worth of recording one's life.
I am so grateful to have made such a large mistake. Because now I get the privilege of going through a full repentance process. I will be able to humbly make use of the gift Christ gave me when He gave his life for me. I make myself more worthy to return to Him.
I have been afraid of this mistake for so long. I did feel free and happy for a day or two....and then - believe it or not - I felt naked. I don't think I yet realize just HOW much I held onto and was formed by this guilt. Because it's like I removed a bunch of junk from my house and then am somehow afraid of the empty spaces. I guess it just means I have the chance to either downsize to a smaller house or fill it with other, more worthy thoughts.
And heaven knows I think plenty of thoughts. I'd better make sure they all have proper admission before just letting them in here, though. Some might be entering to vandalize or set up squatting privileges in a darkened corner of my mind. And fear of empty places only gives them a pile of fluff to build a nest.
I can see that the beginning of repentance, the becoming clean, brings with it responsibilities. And one might react like a child getting dressed for Sunday. If they are prone to dirt, it seems out of character and uncomfortable for them to stay clean and they will as quickly as possbile find a way to mar the improvements. Or, once one has been washed, one is more aware of one's cleanliness, feels loved and cared for and has a deep desire to stay clean as long as possible. Currently I am one and want to be the other. It really feels different.
Perhaps it would be a good use of my time and talents to next identify the places where I get speckles of "dirt" on my clean outfit, in the hopes that I might find a cleaner route.
And I acknowledge the great blessing and truth that even if/when I get dirty again, I may become clean again. Because Father and Christ love me just that much.