Certain times in life define the course we take. The actual time and date is not as pertinent to us as the character we have when a circumstance intersects with our lives. The people surrounding us in that very moment, and how we act or react to those circumstances, determines the course the next hour is lived, and eventually the next hour or decade.
I've lived nearly 64 years. One would think I would have learned a lot by now. I grew up in a strictly authoritarian home. I loved my dad, as little girls do. But my dad was a man who brooked no arguments. His law was law. No grey areas. No wishy washy inconsistency. When Daddy said no...it was no. When he said yes, it was yes. Whining and complaining got me no where. Tears carried no weight.
Our dinner table was set for Daddy, myself, my younger step-brother and two elder biological brothers. I sat across from my father most of the time. My stepbrother sat to my right. My eldest brother sat next to dad, and my middle brotherto his left at the of the table. We did not talk. We did not share our day. No one asked what we thought, or what had gone on in our day.
My step-mother never ever ever sat down to eat with us. She placed the food on the table and served my father whenever he needed something. If we had bean soup and she gave him a soup spoon, he'd push it across the table and grumble, "if I wanted a shovel I would have asked for it." My step-mother cowered and scrambled to get him a teaspoon. Some nights he wanted hot coffee; sometimes he wanted ice-tea. Momma never quite knew what he wanted, nor did it seem, she felt free to ask. One time she gave him a teaspoon to stir the sugar in his ice-tea. It was too short for the tall glass. He pulled it out of the glass, tossed it across the table and barked, "What good is this?" Momma scrambled to find him a soup-spoon. He wanted scrambled eggs each morning, but he didn't want to hear her beat the eggs. He stood in the middle of the living room and say he needed a tee-shirt. Momma got him what he stated he wanted. He never asked; he ordered. He never said thank-you. He never said please. He never offered one word of affirmation or gratitude.
After each meal, my step-mother cleared the table; my brothers and I took turns washing the dishes from dinner and all the dishes accumulated throughout the day. Each night I either washed or dried, depending on which my brothers preferred doing. It was woman's work, after all. I knew my place. Sometimes my brothers had other chores, or homework. And I would do both the washing and the drying, regardless of my homework assignments. Daddy would read his paper, then leave home. While we did dishes, my step-mother would eat a few cold leftovers.
My father was an incredible man. The entire community lauded him. He was a hard working servant. He worked as a plumber-pipefitter on the base in Quantico, Virginia by day. At night he volunteered for the Fire-department and Rescue Squad. "Such a wonderful father you have," I'd hear people say. "Such a good man." I had nothing to compare to "wonderful" and "good". So I accepted that what Daddy did was what all men did. They brook no arguments. Whatever they want is what is done. All the complaints in the world did nothing for my step-mother, but find her face to his back as he went out the door. She learned to walk on egg shells, and I watched her settle into her place in life.
Defining moments for me.
Defining experiences and circumstances.
Men do what they do. Women submit. Women serve in silence, or watch doors slam shut in their faces. What they say must be acceptable and approved by men, or they'll see spoons they offer rejected, and words they utter rebuked. They have no recourse. Rules are made by men, and rules are altered to suit men when men choose to alter them. Women have no opinions. They have no voice. That was my life as a child.
Somewhere between the orders barked for tee-shirts, and complaints for how eggs were fried, I resolved never, ever to have a man like my father as a husband. God blessed me beyond any resolve I imagined.
No friends; we are not totally bound by yesterday, because our Lord says he gives us "new mercies each morning". Yet, each yesterday carries its own set of experiences that guide us, inspire and edify us, or...sadly..
destroy us...and put us in our place--without recourse.
No matter what success we have in yesterday to build upon dreams, and life-long ministries, today brings its own intersections of people. And sometimes...
sometimes we find ourselves sitting at the kitchen table with the family all around us...silenced, without a voice. It's these times we must choose to shut up or speak up. To wilt and wither, or stand tall and deliver. The choice is ours. It's not always easy; it's not always fun. It's not always popular when all is said and done. But growing in grace gives power to the flower, and strength for each hour. One moment at a time. selahV