by C. J. Hardee
A conflicted heart rests in me after spending the Holiday with my family. A heart full of love and memories called me home, yet looks and passing words of judgment make me feel as if I don't belong once I'm there.
A weak hug given to me when you saw me and a warm, welcoming, long embrace to my sister when you saw her. Comforting my sisters when we found out that Mom was going to rehab for addiction, yet dodging my embrace when I went in for a hug. Talking openly to my sisters about their homes, their families, their lives, yet not uttering one word to me, sitting on the opposite couch as we watched a Holiday film, avoiding being even in the same room with me... the Father whom I was so close to in my childhood and young adult life, no longer recognizes me as his own.
Sitting quietly on the couch alone as my sisters sat beside their husbands, as my Father read a passage from the Bible about love and acceptance. Feeling and seeing what to me seems to be pure hypocrisy, and me feeling so much like an outcast and so obviously aware that everyone was sitting by their partner whom they love, yet the person whom I love is not allowed in my parents home. Do my sisters realize my discomfort? They do not say. Do my sisters think about what it would be like if I were sitting there with the woman that I love? They do not say. One of my brother-in-laws playing worship songs on his guitar while the entire family sings along. I sit in silence as I do not know the words. Feeling more like an outcast and more out of place. I know these are not rare moments with my family, this is them. They live to serve God. To worship and praise. Yet to me, it seems like they have selected what they wish to believe and pushed out the rest.
Will I have the courage next year to bring E home with me?
A million other moments, some good, some challenging and hurtful, that show that I am "set apart" of the family. When my Mother gives all my sisters "couples gifts", something special, worth a significant amount, all of them receive the same gift and to me, a gift card to a clothing store, it's value significantly less than what my sisters received. When my Dad asks my baby sister to pray before dinner on Christmas Eve, my older sister to pray over Christmas Breakfast, my younger sister to pray before our "praise session" with my family and then my brother-in-law to pray before we lite the Christmas candles. Even though I served as a missionary in Kenya and England for many years, that prayer request used to go to me. It no longer does. When my Mother tells all my sisters that she is going to rehab for addiction but doesn't tell me... these are little moments, that hurt me more than I can tell. Moments that might be overlooked by so many, yet for me, stand as if under a spotlight.
I know that time, time, time. I must give them time, but I am not currently living in the future, I am living in the now. I can see how far they've come, and I rejoice for that, but it is the now, the present that I am living in that burns like hot coals into my heart.
As E and I cuddled together on her couch with Finn (her Great Pyrenees) on the 26th after we had our own Christmas and were making our way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that feeling of being an outcast and that hurtful and heart wrenching feeling of being unloved from my family, vanished. Laying there beside her, with her hand in mine, listening to her as she watched some of my favorite films for the very first time, looking up at her and seeing her do that fabulous smirk of hers when she notices me smiling at her, I felt that love and acceptance that I missed all weekend. Being loved even while I was totally nerding out over a magic ring, for being loved as I sat in her house thinking about what it would be like next Christmas that her house, being our home, for being loved for simply being me, for being honest and open and being loved for being happy and being interested in my life. That hurt and that distance I felt from the family that I love so much was nothing compared to the acceptance and real love that I felt from a simple glance from the woman that I love.
Friends. Be strong. Be courageous. Be humble. Right now is only a passing thing. Do not lose heart about right now, about this moment, about last month or this month or next month. This moment, this month, next month will pass. Change is happening. Carry on, keep going, keep believing, keep loving. Never loose hope.
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know, it's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here, but we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing. The shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you and meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.