Yesterday was a bright sunny afternoon. I had an appointment and decided I would arrive a little early and sit in a nearby park sipping a cup of hot tea and drink the peace of this rural park for a few minutes. I sat there enjoying the sunshine and the cool breeze listening to the birds after a seemingly endless winter welcoming in this long-awaited spring..
A few minutes later, I noticed a woman, modestly dressed, walking in my direction. The closer and closer she came my heart palpitated, my anxiety increased, my throat constricted. The brown eyes that stared at me…. I suddenly realized that the woman was headed toward my bench, and I moved over to make room for her.
She said, “Do you remember me? *Esther?”
She started speaking, and she related to me how her life had changed a few years earlier when she gave over her anger and wish for justice to God. She stated matter-of-factly that she believed it was due to all the prayers being said for her in her faith community. She was calm and serene. Her faith intact. I silently wondered how she did it, and I didn’t have to wait long to find out. She was more than happy to share—and she had, in me, a captive audience.
Esther related that, although she wouldn’t want to be confronted with this experience ever again, she was “okay with it.” She explained that this challenge had taken her on paths she would never have crossed. She described an recognition of God’s presence that she had never felt before, and a more profound understanding of her own weaknesses.
I sat quietly.
Soon it was time for my appointment. I walked the few hundred feet to the office where my appointment was scheduled. Later in the evening, I couldn’t get this experience out of my mind, the three words that stuck in my mind were “okay with it.”
Through, suppertime, I was distracted. As bedtime rolled around, I attempted to sort out my conflicted feelings. I thought about my own life, my own past,. Should I be “okay with it”? As I searched deep within myself, I realized that although logically I was okay with my current life, my heart was in turmoil. There is a part of me that was angry, sad and anguished. My mind believed, but, my faith is faltering. My heart is aching.
That ache had its roots in a childhood where love didn’t exist. I was neglected and abused physically, sexually, spiritually and emotionally. Although I look back at this time and know it was a time of suffering, it is clear to me that there were certain incidents in my life that pulled me through. These incidents were clearly the hand of God holding me in my darkest moments.
When I was seven or eight years old, I remember Cleo sending me to school without breakfast and without a lunch. This was not an unusual occurrence. There was a pizza shop nearby where I had to catch the bus for school. That October afternoon, as I got off of the big yellow school bus, the scent of heavenly pizza tickled my nostrils and made my hungry stomach growl. I went into the pizza shop.
There I was, a tiny, skinny girl with matted brown hair and large brown eyes, dressed in rags, staring hungrily at the pizza. After a few minutes the owner asked me if I wanted something. I said yes. Pizza! He handed me a slice on a red plastic tray, and I devoured it. But I was still hungry. So again I stood at the counter, and the scene repeated itself—this time with French fries, then Coke, then more Pizza. I was never so full in my life.
Before I left the owner told me that I was welcome anytime. And that is one of the ways I was nourished over the years. Everyday after school I would walk into his pizza shop where he’d have a hot slice waiting. Whenever I recall about this incident, it reminds me of the milk and honey that God fed the Jewish babies…. He took care of them. He used that pizza shop owner to care of me as well.
I struggle every day to see the good in my life and to feel positive. I find that it takes extraordinary effort to believe God loves me..
Am I “okay with it?” All of the “it” was abuse.
No. I’m not okay with that.
At this time, all I can do is notice things like a good parking space, a peaceful dinner, a discovery of a long-wanted item on a clearance rack. Sunny afternoons in the park away from the stress of what I’m currently facing. Petting my cat. Reading. Watching comedies on Netflix. Being grateful for, and leaning on my supportive family and friends when needed. You know what? Today, I’m going to eat some pizza. I believe God is in these moments too.
And… “I’m okay with it.”
*not her real name