Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Think I Got Snot on His Shoulder

Forgiveness is such a big deal! I kind of want to soak in it for awhile. You can read about it here. Without forgiveness, we're pretty much sunk. Lost. Hopeless. Bitter. Wandering. The kids and I were just reading about India today in our "Window on the World" book.
We love this book! It's like...like...a window on the world! Yeah, that's it. Did you know that millions of people in India travel to the Ganges River to wash themselves, hoping to receive forgiveness in this way? That's so sad. They are never really sure if it works. Never really confident that the gods are pleased. Oh, that the whole world would know the forgiving power of the blood of Jesus!

Chatterwell Stories McLoughlin Brothers publications
Okay, it's story time now. My story is about the impossibility of forgiving someone purely out of the goodness of my heart. It is only by the grace of God that I can walk in love and forgiveness with my fellow man and woman.

This little story starts in 2002, in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California. (Name that television show for 1,000 points.) Actually, I was in the doctor's office in Kansas where I worked as a nurse. I had just poked my last victim of the day, and being 7 months pregnant with my first child, had propped up my swollen legs to return some patient calls. It was in that office in the quiet of the end of the day that I received word that my mom had re-married.

Being completely unprepared for this news and hormonally fragile besides, it is perfectly reasonable that I bawled my head off right there at the desk. Right? The doctor, who was the only one left in the office, sprang from his chair to see what was the matter. When what to his wondering eyes should appear, but a big, pregnant lady, soaking wet with her tears. Just trying to keep it Christmasy around here.

I did not get snot on the doctor's shoulder! Nope. When I went home and cried with Bob about the news, I didn't get snot on his shoulder either. Just so we're clear about it.
So, here's the thing. I was still not recovered from the divorce. Far from it. So this new husband was just too much. I decided before I ever met him that I did not like him and had no obligations toward him. My heart was like a block of ice.

In fact, I was in such denial, that it was quite some time before I realized that some people (everybody) considered this man my step-dad. What? No. I don't do step-dads. Nope. Not for me. I decided that Ray would forever be "my mother's husband" and in that way, his relationship to me was irrelevant. This worked out just fine for awhile, but things started to get messy when my kids were old enough to call him grandpa. Grandpa? How did this sneak in? I did not ask for this man to be in our lives, doggone it! 

It was around this time that I faced the possibility that my heart was two sizes too small!

So, I prayed about it. I didn't want to feel this way forever. Remember in my last post about forgiveness how I wrote that asking God for help with anything He tells us to do is an automatic yes? The Bible tells us to "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."~Ephesians 4:32. I prayed for this. I wanted to be kind and compassionate to Ray. My answer took awhile to come, but it came! 

Fast forward to January, 2008. Another phone call, this time while I was sleeping in my bed. "Dad's gone. Come over here." This time, I did not bawl my head off. Numb, I drove over to my dad's house in a fog. Earlier that day, we had moved him into a hospital bed in the living room. None of us knew he would leave us that night. I hadn't said goodbye.

I spent that night looking at my dad, watching my sister and my step-mom cry, waiting for someone to come and make this official. My chest felt tight, but my eyes were dry. I knew I couldn't cry, because that would make it real. I wouldn't cry. After he was taken away, I drove back home, and unsure of what to do, I put on one of his shirts and went back to bed.

The next morning, I wandered downstairs and sat down to pay the bills. Concerned, Bob said, "What are you doing? Your dad just died. You don't pay the bills right now." After Bob and the kids left to take care of some death-related matter, I took my zombie-self up to the shower. As the warm water beat down on my head, I slowly became real again. My tears came, flowing with the water right down the drain.

I cried for a long time. I got dressed, brushed my teeth, dried my hair, and laid on the floor, crying all the while. I couldn't stop. Then I heard a knock at the door, and I realized how much I needed someone at this time of uncontrollable sobbing. I just hoped it wasn't the mailman. When I opened the door, just guess who was standing there? Yep. Ray. My mother's husband. My...step-dad.  

He took one look at my swollen face and opened his arms. And without hesitation, I fell in.

He shuffled me over to the couch, and in his sweet, comfortable way, he let me cry. My head rested on his shoulder while his hand patted mine. "There, there," he said. What an unlikely consolation he was. I would never have chosen him to comfort me in that moment. But the Lord chose him specifically. He knew what He was doing. He knew! After six years of struggle, the Lord answered my prayers in an instant. All the ice melted, and my heart grew three sizes that day! I love my step-dad. And so do my kids. They are blessed to have him for a grandpa.
And I think I got snot on his shoulder.

The End.


  1. I can't see. Too watery over here.

  2. Bawling my head off right now.... thanks I needed that!

  3. I'm continually surprised at how transparent and vulnerable you allow yourself to be...absolutely and wonderfully amazing!

  4. I have heard that story before and I still am crying so much I can't see to type. I love our God. How very kind and compassionate. Oh how His strength is perfected in our weakness!

    Love, Amber

  5. Beautiful . . . absolutely beautiful.


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