About that baggage we lug around …


Carrying bitterness & anger

Originally published July 2, 2015

Recently, I came face-to-face with a cream pie. Yes, it was as if one of God’s angels walked up to me and — Splat! — shoved a pie in my face. At the time, I didn’t think of it that way. I just felt slightly stunned, confused, and a little embarrassed. Since I’ve cleaned up and replayed what happened – observing the scene as an onlooker – I’ve laughed out loud, and the angels have celebrated. Because what else can I do? It’s over and done with. In fact, it was over and done with a lifetime ago, but the me who was the me then, and even the later me’s, had clearly ignored the memos.

My father passed away a little over a month ago, but I was fortunate enough to spend time with him during the months leading up to his death, and I’ve been at peace with it. One bittersweet moment I shared with him was “the cream pie” moment. Deadline-time was literally approaching, and there was some kind of creature deep within my psyche that kept poking me and urging, “Now! Say it now!” But, as is my way, I shooed it away until it crawled back and welled up into my throat. I thought I was going to burst and green slime would be splattered all over creation. Well, at least all over his bedroom.

My father was propped up in his hospital bed watching his baseball team, and I was in the cushy rocker-recliner next to him – half-watching the game while mindlessly scrolling through the Internet feed on my phone, trying my best to ignore the phantom voice, until I finally, hurriedly placed my phone on the bedside table, rose from the chair, and said, “Daddy, I need to talk with you about something.”

His eyes were still fixed across the room on the screen. I think he mumbled, “What?,” and he might’ve been perturbed when I strode across his view to the other side of his bed. I turned his walker around, pushed it closer in, sat down on its seat, took his frail hand in mine and said, “Daddy, I have to say something.” He then looked at me wide-eyed and full-on: his dark brown pupils, large and worried. I literally crumbled onto his chest and sobbed, “Oh, Daddy. … Daddy, I’m so sorry for how angry I was with you. I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand.” He didn’t speak as I cried it out into the soft tee shirt that protected his paper-thin skin. There was no green slime. My tears ran clear and warm.

I raised my face to his, expecting … What? I’m not sure. I no longer saw “worry;” I saw “confusion.” I think I said something about how I treated him after he and my mother divorced, and I was about to say more but his expression changed, and he appeared to be thinking, “WTF? What are you talking about?” Then, I heard him say, “Let it go, girl. Let it go. … Remember only the good things. Okay?” So, I nodded once, picked myself up, turned his walker back around, and walked back to my chair. He resumed watching the game, and I sat there, feeling slightly dazed.

I’ve laughed several times since and felt so much lighter.

I can’t feel sorry for myself because my father didn’t want to listen to me – a 60-year-old grown-up woman – cry about a nasty divorce that happened nearly 50 years ago. He knew it had hurt us kids; he battled with those and other demons and was at peace with his life. What had been haunting me were the times I had been quick to anger and criticize him to others for new stuff that I didn’t recognize as old stuff and for the walls I’d built around me, to protect my heart from … Life. Sure, I became resilient — as children of divorce tend to be — but I also learned to stuff my feelings which I learned much later in life to be unhealthy for me and my relationships. Looking back, I can see there were many opportunities for me to talk about my hurts, but I chose not to.

That day, he obviously had other things – more important things, in fact – to think about. He was dying; he’d said what he wanted to say to those closest to him, and all he wanted to do then was enjoy his last moments in peace – waiting it out while watching his team play ball. (I think they may have been winning, and he sure didn’t want to miss that.) He gave me some really good, fatherly advice, which I’ve taken to heart and will happily carry the rest of life.

I’ve been laughing at myself because I can look back and see me trudging — huffing, puffing, and stumbling — several lifetimes with that and other emotional baggage. Maybe I’m not alone? Maybe this happens to others … that we just keep piling on the garbage as we trek on. If it was visible, imagine how ridiculously funny we’d look. Unfortunately, there’s a very unfunny part to this, because those hurts-upon-hurts can become big stresses that can damage our relationships and our health.

A spiritual book I’ve toted for nearly 20 years reads differently and reveals more treasures year after year, if I’ve remembered to lighten my load: God Calling by A.J. Russell.

In the May 29th entry, Jesus instructs the reader to Forget:

Regret nothing. Not even the sins and failures. When a man views earth’s wonders from some mountain height he does not spend his time in dwelling on the stones and stumbles, the faints and failures, that marked his upward path. … Man is so made that he can carry the weight of twenty-four hours, no more. Directly he weighs down with the years behind, and the days ahead, his back breaks. I have promised to help you with the burden of today only, the past I have taken from you and if you, foolish hearts, choose to gather again that burden and bear it, then indeed, you mock Me to expect Me to share it. … A man on a march on earth carries only what he needs for that march. Would you pity him if you saw him bearing too the overwhelming weight of the worn-out shoes and uniforms of past marches and years? And yet, in the mental and spiritual life, man does these things. Small wonder My poor world is heartsick and weary. …” [sic]

Although, I don’t believe Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t make amends for those we’ve hurt (sinned against, failed); sincerely apologizing and/or making it right can go a long way toward peace and understanding.

In this March 6th entry, Jesus points the way to Love and Laughter: Work for Me, with Me, through Me. All work to last must be done in My Spirit. … Love and laughter form the plough that prepares the ground for the seed. Remember this. If the ground is hard, seed will not grow there. Prepare the ground, prepare it as I say. [sic]

Oh, I simply can’t help myself, friends … I like to imagine He also instructs the angels: Prepare the cream pies, prepare them as I say. No skimping on the cream either. God knows My poor people need to lighten up. 

Photo credit: © Rodrigolab | Dreamstime.com – Sherpa Porter On Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal 

Quote credit: Terry Brooks, American writer; one of the biggest-selling living fantasy writers.

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