Last night I couldn’t sleep so I found myself scrolling Facebook. (Is it just me or do you do the same in the wee hours of the morning?) I landed on a video of a childhood friend, her sister and mom all in the kitchen making cookies. My friend’s sister was doing the taping, asking her mom to tell the story of when her family came over from Italy. It was a pretty long video and I watched every moment, feeling like I was right there in the kitchen with them. The three ladies laughed together, reminisced and had a very special moment together. Although, I suspect for them, they were just having a typical afternoon.
For me, it was anything but a “typical” moment. I found myself asking God alot of questions. Questions like, “We grew up together, went to the same church, attended the same youth group. We both came from Italian families. Why do they have such a close relationship and get to have such “normal” moments and what I got was a broken family and exclusion?”
Watching them both drew me in and made me smile and at the same time made my heart sad and homesick for normalsy. That’s my typical response to things that remind me of my past. It’s like when I hear the song “Because He Lives” that my mom would sing all the time in our home. On one hand it feels comforting like home. On the other I want to push it out of my mind because I feel the sadness that my adult life was robbed of the family I grew up with.
BUT last night God (there’s always a ‘BUT GOD’) used the moment to reveal something about myself. When I look at my life growing up and as an adult in regards to my (birth)family relationships I have a huge tendency to shut out any good memories and only remember the struggles. I make my focus when I look back on my life on what I’ve survived and overcome. When I speak to groups and share my testimony (as many do) I share my story of how I’ve overcome, how God carried me through, and allowed me to thrive and use it for His glory. And that’s all ok. After all we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.
What God reminded me of last night was that the good moments of my life are just as responsible for making me who I am today as the hard stuff. I did have many moments in my grandma’s kitchen baking cookies and listening to her stories. I had moments with my mom talking about all kinds of things and seasons when we were close. There were many Saturdays doing puzzles or playing Monopoly with my dad. I realized I’ve packed up and boxed away so many of my good memories because to rememer the good makes me long for what was taken away.
God does not want me to reframe my past to be just the trauma, hurt and rejection I experienced but to allow myself to remeber and talk about the good moments. The hard part for me is remembering the special moments without feeling the loss. After all, I want my kids to hear all the happy, fun things about my life, what being part of an Italian family was like, and what being part of a wonderful church was like for me. It’s not just part of my life, it’s part of my children’s heritage.
Listen, none of us have arrived. I am pretty grateful that I have lived through what I’ve lived through and have joy, peace and know what being loved by my God feels like. But just maybe this is my next step in the healing process, embracing all of what my life has been, the good, the bad and the silly.
And I hope some day my kids will look back fondly on the moments when we sat around my table eating pasta, laughing and enjoying moments together.