For the first time in my life I might know a teeny bit how it felt.
My parents are a world away. A cryptic email came this morning mentioning “great difficulty.” There is no way to really get to them. I could call and call and call their phones, but they would not answer. I do not know where they are sleeping tonight. If I needed them I could only send a message into cyberspace and hope they would read it. If they wanted to come home today they could not.
I remember years of my life when my parents could not get to me. I was wounded and broken. I withdrew from a prestigious woman’s college where I had an elite scholarship, because I couldn’t move anymore. An avalanche of life had begun crushing anything and everything I believed about God. This began with huge life changes like two brothers adopted from Romania, old pain from my parents younger selves being revealed, an ugly church split, my older sister who slept on my floor every night getting married and moving away, isolation from all the people I had known most of my life and my parents and siblings moving to Ohio. Trauma was the tipping point in a seventeen year old girl living on her own and completely alone. I was a sophomore in college, working two jobs, a Young Republican, active in Right to Life, active in the college’s Baptist Student Union. It’s true one storm can blow everything away. The younger you are and the more sheltered and naïve the worse the damage will be. I was decimated.
The story of the almost year between when my world blew up and when I called my parents to tell them is too graphic for this heart to retell. I know on their side they were thinking maybe I had simply changed my mind about schools. I did transfer to a larger state school the next semester. They were dealing with new jobs, special needs kids and making a new life. I had managed to keep working and paying my rent in my basement apartment. There wasn’t really anyone left in my life to be accountable to so my slipping away was easy to hide. When we did talk I know I told them what they wanted to hear to make it easier on them. Still, they would call some nights, and I did not answer. They did not know where I was sleeping or if I was really okay.
When I finally told them, because my sexual assault counselor told me I had to, I know it was horrific for them. Can you imagine the guilt a parent has when circumstances spiral to one of your worst fears being realized for your daughter? My dad got in his car and drove all the way to our home town. We met at an Econo Lodge. We got down on our knees, and he prayed with me. Then he asked me to come home. There was nothing in my heart that even moved toward making that kind of decision. Ohio wasn’t home. I wasn’t Monica anymore. I told him I couldn’t. I hugged him and said “goodbye” and “I love you” and went back to my dorm room to cry myself to sleep. I was a sophomore in college. I was a binge drunk. I was a whore. I was a blasphemer. I was eating with the pigs. I changed my major to sociology. I became a feminist, a humanist and a liberal. Still, when I was alone at night and could not numb myself any longer I could hear my Father calling my name.
Today I know what it must have felt like.
I just want them to come home.
I want to say “I’m sorry” for the million ways I hurt them. I want to forgive them for the million ways they thought they were doing what was best that hurt me. I want to show them grace. I want to honor them for their faith and courage and service. I am like them in many ways. I can hear my girls on the phone someday saying I was too involved in other’s lives, praying too much for people we don’t really even know, giving to people when we don’t have “enough” ourselves. I’ve faulted my parents for these things before.
I am so much like my father. I see the world through a theological lens I will never be able to leave behind. I hope it’s not theology. I think it is Jesus. I will always be digging and searching and maybe too serious. I will always need to retreat from social situations and need time to be alone to be okay. He is a lover of Grace and truth seeker. He is a writer, an early riser to seek the face of God and carries the lives of hundreds of families in his heart.
I am like my mother. I will learn of a friend of a friend who is hurting, and I will pray and ask you to pray. It is annoying to most and endearing only to those who know how sincere we are. I am sometimes an optimist like her. I used to call her house a glass castle. I understand over these last years it is a coping mechanism for making it through really hard things and also a ruthless trust in a good God no matter what. She is a journal keeper, early riser to seek the face of God and carries the lives of hundreds of families in her heart.
I want them to come home.
I want them to know after thirty-seven years an email from a far away land healed more in me than all the therapy I’ve ever been through.
I love you dad and mom.
Father, bring them home.
(This is a repost from June 11, 2013. My dad is heading for China today. Won’t you please join me in praying for his safety and the Kingdom work he is doing there. Thank you.)