Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Unexpected Freedom

Freedom comes my way. A certain freedom I've never known in all my life.

This may sound really horrible, but since both my parents have passed away quietly in their old age - and I do miss them because I loved them with all my heart - a new freedom smoothes over me like cool water sliding along a sticky body diving into a delicious lake on a hot summer's day. It feels really good, this freedom.

Before you conclude that I'm an uncaring daughter, let me explain that the family home of my childhood was a very competitive place, a dangerous place for a highly sensitive person such as I, a happiness destroying, identity crushing environment due to sibling jealousy, manipulation, and dysfunction. It formed in me traits I have hated - and successfully battled - all my life.

On the day we buried my dad, my spirit knew before my mind did, that the weight of hierarchy and competition had given way to immense freedom.

My parents are safe with Jesus now, and I am free. While I miss my parents, I am free from the sibling dysfunction that robbed me of happiness and serenity for six decades. No longer is it big sister/little sister, big brother/little sister, or big sister/little brother battling for parental favoritism (for that is what it looked like to me). Nope. Now we are equals. There is no one to tattle to. There is no mountain to be king of. There are no parents to seek favor from. We are four people, with a shared childhood, some shared adult moments, and the rest of our lives to make our own choices.

I've always known how much Mom and Dad loved me. They told me so. As the last child to leave the nest I had a few extra years with Mom and Dad while they were relaxed and invigorated in their early retirement years. We had a blast! We became very close and more friends than parents and child. Each of my parents shared things with me in confidence about their lives before they'd met each other, things I have only told my husband and kids in strictest confidence. Special moments, for sure.

Mom and Dad repeatedly let me know they respected me, respected my decisions, loved my choice of a husband, were crazy about my kids. They were proud of the financial choices my husband and I made. They were pleased with our lifestyle and bragged about us to their friends and family. I always loved how candid I could be with my parents, how they would open up to me in ways they didn't with anyone else. The last time I saw my dad he told me he enjoys visits from my little family because, "you enliven me." And that we did. And that we had been doing for decades. The last time I saw each of my parents their parting words were that they loved me. "I love you, kiddo," Mom said with a lovely smile and a kiss.

And now that love is free to flow all through me, unpolluted, unquestioned. It cannot be twisted or stolen. It is safe. Just as it's always been. I don't have to defend it against intruders ever again.

The truth soothes. Memories embrace.

It would have been nice to have lived in a kinder home as a child, but I didn't. The consolation is that now I get to live in the balm of freedom that was denied to me then. God is kind that way. Even as He took my parents away, He gave relief from a burden.

Mom told me to just consider the source and be patient when I bemoaned the sibling dysfunction, even as a young adult. "In time, Cherie, in time," she'd say.

Dad told me the entire story hasn't been written yet, to wait and things would get better. "Trust the Lord and wait."

This was their advice to me, their highly sensitive child, who had a hard time in that competitive environment, because I didn't like the way I acted there. I didn't like my behavior when the others competed with me.

Thanks for consoling me all those times, Mom and Dad. You were right. It just took time. I'm glad it took as long as it did. I wouldn't have wanted to miss all the wonderful years with you. You had to go. But you left freedom behind for me. I appreciate it.

See you soon!