Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thin Places

I just finished reading Thin Places a memoir by Mary DeMuth.  A brave compilation of unfortunate childhood memories, Mary does much more than dredge up her sordid past for the sake of wallowing in it's raunchy pit.  She creates an opportunity to see things anew; to gain a fresh perspective on the past in order to move on to the present.

"Much of what God does in my life is healing the past in order to embrace the future" Mary writes (p189).  The time has come for me to do the same.  The time has come to stop running from my past in a vain hope of leaving it all behind.  The time has come to remember...so I do.

I remember standing in the kitchen watching my father smash a chair to smithereens as my sister cowered in the corner, yet again unable to recite her multiplication tables.

I remember clearly being told to never call my father, "Daddy" or to treat him as I would treat a friend, for, "He was my father and not my friend."

I remember the surprising flutter of butterflies in my stomach the first time I heard a deep male voice cry out to the Lord in true worship and out of a heart of love for his God.  "Do men really have heart?" I remember thinking.  "Will a heart like that ever really love me?"

My father was an alcoholic.  He has been gloriously sober for five years now, but the healing has only just begun.  The light has only recently met the dark corners of my pain, my disappointments, my memories.  But even here in the dark corner I find hope.  It is here that, "I have the painful privilege of extending forgiveness again, to walk with Jesus through the memories with grace-filled eyes" (DeMuth, p47).

I pray for that grace.  Grace to wash my vision of the past with the healing balm of forgiveness.  Grace to walk with Jesus through the memories and see them anew.  If I look again, maybe I'll see things differently.  Maybe...

...instead of seeing an outraged alcoholic smashing a chair in unbridled anger, I would see my father exercise the little bit of self control the alcohol hasn't yet stolen.  I would see him smashing a chair in lieu of striking his little girl.

...instead of seeing the outrageously cold and stoic father who can't even bear the sound of the word, "Daddy," I would see a heart so desperate for significance that he would demand it from his children.  Maybe he was so sickly aware of his own alcoholic tendencies that the idea of someone counting on him so intimately was a crushing burden instead of a tender invitation.

Maybe I could see beyond the gaping hole in my heart for a strong and tender father figure.  Maybe I could hear the deep worship-filled voice of a man in love with Jesus not as a reminder of scars left from my earthly father, but rather as a timely gift of encouragement from my heavenly Father - a display of the heart God has for me - His child, His beloved.

The time has come to remember.  Jesus, help me remember anew.


  1. Oh, how this brings tears to my eyes. You have written about this all so beautifully.

    I am so sorry for all that you faced as a child, but I am so thankful that you are willing to offer it all up to the Lord and ask Him to walk you through it with grace-filled eyes. Wow.

    I am sure it will be tremendously painful, and yet, such a gift to let Him heal those places tenderly.

    So thankful you have the hope and help of the Lord. He is so faithful.

  2. Kimberly, Thank you for your encouragement to continue walking through it all. I'm not sad any more. Hopeful, actually, that I get (really, I GET) to see it all anew. With God grace, maybe I'll see His hand, His hope, His protection, His love for me and for my father in it all.

    We just came from Charleston before moving to Hawaii. Where are you in SC?

  3. I ADORE Mary DeMuth so I'm excited to read this. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Erin, I'm getting ready to read her Pioneer Parenting as well. It's so encouraging to know someone else has walked the road ahead of you...and done it well. I can't wait to read what she says about 1st generation Christian parenting.

  5. Hi Tracey- Let me know what you think of Pioneer Parenting... I think it sounds like a great book... I might just have to read it, too!

  6. Tracey, we lived in Charleston for almost 9 years. :) We moved back to the Upstate (Spartanburg, to be exact) about 4 years ago. How funny to think we may have been in Charleston at the same time!

  7. Erin - I'm loving it! I bought it on Kindle edition, and didn't really get a feel for how long it was until my progress percentage climbed as slow as a turtle traveling uphill.

    It it just what I thought it would be and not at all what I expected. She writes about her heart in parenting, and not much at all about techniques. But it is still 100% God's providential timing to place this book in my hands now - when I'm struggling to heal from my own past hurts in order to press on to the future...especially as a Mom and a wife.


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