Sunday, October 29, 2006

in the Greek

There is a word I'm becoming familiar with in the context of life and a study I'm trying to complete on the fruit of the Spirit. It is a Greek word, makrothumia. This is the word for patience in the Galatians 5 passage that lists the fruit. It has the connotation of forgiveness and mercy, and the exercise of it's virtue toward people because of that. I got stung in my study this morning by the statement that the perfect vessel of God to exercise makrothumia is one with every right to be angry and hold a grudge. Zing...that's me, and in a second and one statement I saw what God is doing in my life. I'm a self-righteous vessel being filled with patience toward those with whom I'd rather not. This is perfectly consistent with the arc of my whole existence now that I think about it

All my life I've been touched by people who struggle with alcoholism or chemical dependencies. I've been more than touched, I've been bulldozed. My personality, life, thoughts and actions became a response and a reaction to my father's addiction. When I was small I didn't know what it was that made the atmosphere in our home so tense. I only knew it was very, very important for me to be a good little girl and make daddy happy by being obedient and working hard in school. Guilt was an emotion I could never escape. Maybe it was easier to blame myself for his unhappiness than think it was random and without some reason that could be addressed by things we did for him. I always wanted to fix it, to fix him, to fix our family. The scenario raged out of control by the time my mother was terminally ill with cancer and finally admitted to us older girls the extent of the problem. She was forced out of hiding. After her death my father married a woman with a cross-addiction problem, and the added dynamic of trying to deal with her possessiveness of him set us children up for continual conflict. If he couldn't help himself in the first place, he couldn't help us now. My stepmother ran the show.

I knew all along forgiveness was right. I accepted Christ as a teenager, and I loved my dad. But it is so hard to offer forgiveness and mercy to someone who continues in a behavior that is destroying your life and your siblings' lives as well as his own. It was as though as long as I held on to the anger the problem was present and real. I felt simply forgiving would be denying the truth. I have since realized that my anger was only really hurting me. But it was not without reason or foundation, and allowing God to work is the only solution. He is the only righteous Judge and Lawgiver. I had to turn that judgement over to Him, but I also had to survive the process, and help my sisters survive as well.

That all took a toll. I prayed my children would not be touched by the demons that invaded my childhood home, but it was not to be. My older son and daughter both had their internal struggles that led to wrong behavior-my son particularly, and all of those emotions and struggles I had in the past came rushing back. Just like with my dad, I wanted to protect my son, even from himself, but I could not. The law stopped him. It also tore the veil away from things I kept covered for a long time. God's expediency in working touches all people concerned in every way. So back to makrothumia. My father is dead and my son in prison, so therefore I cannot practically and actively exercise this towards them. Well, with my son I can but not in the way I could if he was living at home. So I'm led to people who have injured their families and are finding the way home themselves. God has picked up this dusty cup, blown His breath onto it and poured His life inside, that like the Samaritan on his way I may hold a cup of life to the parched lips of those dying for makrothumia and find it myself.


Post a Comment

<< Home