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Don’t Talk to Me About White Privilege

I’m sure it’s a thing, white privilege. One need look no further than, say, Donald Sterling to know that there’s something very wrong with the world, that systemic racism exists.

That white privilege is a thing.

But don’t talk to me, a white guy, about it. Because white privilege, insofar as I can tell, never did a damn thing for me.

Let me explain.

Behind the middle class fačade, was an empty home. A home devoid of any real sense of security, or love. Emotionally distant, and uninvolved, my dad couldn’t keep it in his pants, “screwing around” on my mom for fourteen out of sixteen years. And my mom? When he left, she had to take on two, and sometimes three, jobs to keep us fed, and a roof over our heads.

The net effect is that I lost both parents.

While there may in fact have been more creature comforts, I was still latchkey. I came home to an empty house day in and day out. Left to my own devices, I didn’t get into drugs, but rather porn. Nobody cared.

Nobody cared when the centerfolds went up on my bedroom wall. They just closed my door, and pretended they weren’t there. There was no dad, or father figure, to tell me that women were not objects, or hos, that existed just for me. Nobody cared when I stayed up late at night, watching the racy movies.

I was, by and large, ignored.

Like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, I was ignored. Until I fucked up, that is. Then it was all OMG! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

But even then it was mostly bark, no bite. People couldn’t bother to really care. I mean my mom once took my cigarettes away, saying she didn’t want me to smoke. She hid them literally on front of face, like I wouldn’t retrieve them almost immediately.

The list goes on. The greatest travesty of my upbringing was that it was virtually consequence-free: there were no real boundaries, and thus no real, tangible, sense of love…

Wait. I can recall one thing that white privilege gave me:

My mom, the counselor, threw me an eighteenth birthday party. She and her boyfriend vacated the house so I could have friends over. Did I mention that she brought me along with her to the videostore to rent pornos? Yep, she did. And she, the youth diversion coordinator, also supplied all the booze we could drink, including hiding a bottle of Southern Comfort in my bed.

Lucky me, right?

So there’s my white privilege upbringing,  people. Didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel very privileged to me. To this day, my relationship with mom is strained; and with my dad, it’s nonexistant.

Divorce and dysfunction hath it’s privileges, eh?

Quiet Tragedy: Through a Child’s Eyes

'Fagor Pressure Cooker Lid' photo (c) 2010, Julie Magro - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Not all family tragedies erupt with sudden explosions of violence. Some tragedies are far quieter, silently simmering for years like a pressure cooker. The children never hear a cross word exchanged between their parents, but even if they lack the ability to articulate just what it is, they know. Children are notoriously perceptive creatures, and even if they lack the words, they feel the tension.

And then one day something is different. The pressure, the tension, has unexpectedly been relieved. The valve has been turned, the lid is off the cooker, and the steam evaporated into the air.

'@ Steam' photo (c) 2009, Pete Birkinshaw - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Likewise has their family dissipated into the ether like steam. It has ended not with a bang, but a hissing whisper. Quietly swept away like gossamer on the wind…

Not all tragedies are loud things. Instead of an explosion of emotion, there is an implosion of the soul. “Why did this happen,” the child asks (perhaps not in so many words)? “Am I to blame?” There are no words, no navigator, to traverse this inner landscape. One parent is gone, and the other working desperately to hold on, provide a semblance of stability.

'Atomic Bomb Test' photo (c) 2012, SDASM Archives - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/

Too late.

The bomb has quietly gone off. Where before the child was whole, he is now a fractured soul. Unsteady, unstuck, unanchored, he is a ship in the long, dark night headed, like Titanic, for a berg. Collision is inevitable when one has no concrete sense of place, no place that feels like home. Untethered, the child wanders rootless, without purpose.

'Tom Riddle's Diary' photo (c) 2012, Sarah_Ackerman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Life becomes something merely to be survived. Like Voldemort split amongst his horcruxes, it is a fragmented existence–a half life. Like Harry, the child will spend the better part of his life trying to find the pieces; unlike, he is not trying to destroy them, but piece them back together into a meaningful whole. Yet so often this is akin to placing square pegs into round holes: things may indeed be forced into place, but they are not a good fit.

And they slip, or cannot be dislodged–except by force.

This child? He is a child of divorce.

I am the child, and this is my story.

What is yours?

Time, Wounds, & Healing

'India - Chennai - Inspirational wall slogans 06' photo (c) 2009, McKay Savage - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

There is an adage which states “time heals all wounds.” Problem is, it’s simply not true. The mere passage of time itself does nothing to heal hurts. Cuts and scrapes scab over, crust, and fade into scars.

But time did nothing to heal. Time is simply the yardstick by which we measure the progress of the healing abilities built by God into our magnificent bodies. Our bodies, once wounded, did what they are supposed to do: heal.

Would that it were the same for wounds of the soul. For the hurts that are mental, emotional, and spiritual in nature. Unfortunately, these wounds do nothing to heal themselves. Like the body, when it is too injured to heal itself, something more is required. For a wound which is too deep or penetrating for the natural healing abilities to go  work on, this may mean surgery.

A wound made for the express purpose of healing another hurt.

In the case of hurts not physical in nature, this means emotional, mental, or spiritual surgery under the guidance of God through skilled practitioner of those fields. What it takes is courage. Courage, and vulnerability, to plunge into those wounded placed in our souls.
We often don’t want to go there, back into those wounded places, those tender spots. Yet we wonder why the healing we desperately crave isn’t forthcoming. It’s because, through sheer avoidance, we hold onto those hurts, nursing them.

Using them as walls around our hearts.

Thing is, if we are His, He will find ways to take us back to those places. Because God is faithful parent, He loves is enough to not leave us as we are. We just have to willing, and vulnerable, enough to do the work.

It isn’t time, though it may possibly bring the perspective of distance, that heals. In fact, wounds left untreated often fester. And it is these wounds which we hide, hold onto, or otherwise deny that do fester. Not into boils, sores, or pustules, but rather the gangrene of the soul: bitterness, unforgiveness, and other toxic maladies… leaving us with a kind of Leprosy of of the heart: callous, unfeeling, rotten, and cold.

It is time+work+willingness to confront the unpleasantness which lies within which=healing. Like our bodies sometimes need surgery, even more often do our souls.

What do you think? Share in the comments below.

Choosing to Forgive My Pop–a Guest Post by Joe Sewell

Joe SewellFolks, I have the great privilege of hosting Joe Sewell today. In his own words, Joe: is a 50-year-old software geek living in West Melbourne, FL, after he and his parents bailed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when he was 18. His lovely wife, Joy, has put up with him on more than major holidays for 19 years so far. Joe writes about Biblical stuff on his blog, , at Consider This, whenever he gets something to write on. Joe also participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and produced a weird self-published book, The Quantum Suicide of Schrödinger’s Cat, available on Amazon and CreateSpace. Joe also contributed a piece for Anne Jackson’s Permission To Speak Freely and for the Not Alone! anthology. He claims to have some other book ideas locked in his head, but cannot seem to find the key at the moment. Joe is scared of kids, but can handle his 5.3-pound Rat-Cha, Cocoa.

[Editor's note: Joe is the process of creating a new blog, which has not yet launched. Also, my apologies for my tardiness in getting this up. It's been a busy summer so far.]

——————–

Last year, for Father’s Day, Chad wrote a post on his father. I responded with a comment about my own father. He asked me to do a guest post. I was clueless. I still am, but I’m daring to follow it up for Father’s Day, 2013.

I’ll let the links tell the story so far. Suffice it to say, though, that I have few fond memories of my father. In fact, I hated him for years.

Pop died in January of 1993, in part due to his inability to accept doctor’s orders, in part due to his innate fear of being “lazy.” For him “lazy” was the absolute worst thing you can be. If there was something that “needed to be done” – and that was defined only by his personal definition – and you didn’t do it, even if you had a broken ankle, you were “lazy.” (No, I’m not exaggerating. He walked across the bedroom once on a broken ankle just because he couldn’t think of the term “answering machine.” I heard the bones crunching!)

Pop also followed the greatest commandment of the socially-inbred small-town culture I was born & raised in. That command was “thou shalt not hurt anyone else’s feelings.” Lying through your teeth, or a “little white lie” as it was often called there, was not only acceptable, but expected, even demanded. As a result, you could say and act one way to a person, then turn around and destroy them with gossip and insults behind their back. Denial of the back-biting was, of course, another expected “little white lie.” Of course, when “everybody” does this to “everybody” else, who do you trust? Nobody.

That’s why I could never believe that my father loved me. After all, I was born with what one doctor called “cold weather asthma.” It was worse before I had a tonsillectomy, but even at 50 I have to be careful in the winter, even in my Florida home. As a result, though, I couldn’t be out shoveling snow or moving hay down from the upper level of the barn for the sheep & other critters we had. Because of the low exercise I’ve always been obese, and can’t deal with the heat too well, either, so summer sweat was out as well.

Technically, according to my father’s own definition, I was one of those lazy, good-for-nothing people, simply because I didn’t stink of sweat at the end of every day. Of course, he’d never say that to my face. In fact, he’d deny it to my face. What did he tell others behind my back, though? For years I had no reason to believe that he didn’t hate me because I was “lazy.”

After he died in 1993, I was able to talk with my mother more. They had divorced after 25 years of marriage, because Pop had started down the path of physical abuse. More than likely it was out of frustration, but that’s no excuse. My mother is also 25 years younger than Pop.

Continue Reading…

When Paradigms Shift

'D23 Expo 2011 - Marvel panel - Shifting the Paradigm' photo (c) 2011, pop culture geek - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Life is full of vicissitudes, vagaries, and chance. While I believe God is sovereign, I also believe that, as C.S. Lewis said, “Free will requires a kind of divine self-abdication.” This does not mean that God is not privy to what will happen, but rather that he purchased our freedom at such a high cost to himself that he often doesn’t step in to stop free acts of others from hurting what we would deem the innocent.

Bullets, and bats, are not transmogrified into harmless rubber. Child molesters are not afflicted with impotency. The world seems to be going straight to hell without so much as a by-your-leave.

Some would point to this, and say there is no God. And on the surface, it sure appears that way. The Bible has something to say about this; namely, that this world is under the evil one’s sway. That we don’t yet see everything under Christ’s feet.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to accept that, I want it to be enough, but I have questions aplenty.

Why did I lose a sibling to abortion?

Why were my dad, and his sisters, subjected to such an unhealthy, abusive upbringing?

Why do I have no relationship with him?
Why do I struggle making lasting friendships?

Why is being a husband, and dad, so hard for me?

Why, God, did you let xxxxx happen, and why didn’t I find out until I was an adult?

Why do you keep shifting my paradigms, and peeling back the layers of my life like some onion? 'layers' photo (c) 2011, rosmary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

He never answers these questions, except to give selfsame answer he gave to Job:

“Where were you when I made the world, since you are so old?”

What can I say to that? Such is his severe mercy that I must cling to, and grope for, it everyday.

None other has the words of life.

How about you? What are your questions? What do you struggle with in this vale of tears?

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