My Mom took me out to breakfast this morning to celebrate my birtday and to remember an emotional time for her. 34 years ago last night, she walked into a hospital in Philly in labor of a pregnancy she had been hiding. She had come to the conclusion that her marriage was not going to work after already having 2 kids and yet felt that God had called her to have one more, thats how I came into the picture. I was an agreement of the divorce procedings. As well, my grandfather accidentally started speaking in tongues in the early 1970's while pastoring a large fundamental Baptist Church in Philly. The next day they fired him. The church split and with it, so did my parents' marriage. Both grandparents on polar opposite sides of the issue after decades of intimate friendship and ministry. So my Mom hid the pregnancy to avoid more of the judgment and shame put upon her by the church folk of already in a divorce. Some of you have suggested I have the spiritual gift of controversy, well let's just say I was born into it :) For all the brokenness that I was born into, I can assure you, its not my destiny.
By the way, I have never liked John Lennon. He ruined my 8th birthday. I remember sitting at the table by myself in our mobile home in front of my birthday cake but all the family was huddled around the TV all night watching the news because Lennon had been shot. I know if John could choose, he wouldn't have wanted my birthday to go that way either, but I've secretly always held it against him.
Its important for me to continue to verbalize my grief, but if you ask me what I want for my birtday, I would like to have Chad and Palmer back with us in this life. I just can't let it go. I've had rough dreams/nightmares the past couple nights and I think its mostly anxiety. I'm not at peace with my surroundings.
Through 34 years, brokenness has been a constant companion. At the age of 17, it drove me to suicidal thoughts and contemplating the meaning and purpose of anything. I had no love or intimacy in my life and found it not worth living. Sports was my only outlet, but I played to release rage while my friends seemed to have fun. At 34, I have learned to allow brokenness to be a chisel in the hands of God to mold me into something not only useful, but valued and loved. I think C.S. Lewis used to teach about that. Suffering can be a companion to embrace and soak up for its learning opportunities. To suffer within a community of love makes it just about palatable. The promise that I will never be alone is the Rock by which I stand today.
Brokenness is also how I tend to connect to those around me. I have always found it easy to empathize with others. To enter their pain with them to me is holy ground. I'm honored when others give me that place in their life. When others have had the voice of pain shouting at them, God has given me certain gifts to enter in and shout just a little bit louder with words and a presence of hope and life. To this point in my life, it is that ministry that I am most proud of. I am not a traditional pastor, but I am a warrior who will continue to set up camps in enemy territory until I don't have any birtdays left in this life. I'll stop when my grave is dug, until then, War on and I think I'm just warming up yet.