I’m sitting at the corner table and never would have paid mind, except for the fact that Big Momma was so confident and so…big.
“You know if you need anything, you call yo’ momma.”
And I looked up to see the extraordinary people having this conversation. Big Momma stood with her back against the door, ready to push off and leave behind and her son, an 18 or 19 year old fledgling man, sat at a booth with a friend.
“You know where’da come to.” Big Momma succored with her words.
Then she was gone and the young men continued with their conversation like everything was normal, but I was not normal.
I felt a pang in the heart that lodged in the throat. “What would it be like to have that kind of momma?” I wondered, “the kind of momma that nourished and nurtured with her words, built up instead of tearing down?”
“What would it be like to be that kind of momma?” I wondered that too.
I’m a mare, eyes wild, swishy tail, antsy feet. It’s inbred in me- to run. Just like the forefather’s scrawling bold names to their Declaration, I’ve stamped my heart with the word “Independent” as a warning sign to anyone who might try to capture me…and I’m real good at hightailing it.
Some people call it intimacy disorder. The inability to attach. I’ve got it.
It’s the result of trauma. Abuse. Woundedness. Or the inheritance from forefathers who never learned attachment themselves.
It’s the deadly disease my parents have and their parents before them and I can’t help myself and I’ve asked for years how do I change?
I come from a family who confuse religion for relationship; sex for intimacy; possessions for presence; a clean house for affection.
I’m deeply touched by Big Momma standing in that doorway telling her son, “You know if you need anything, you call yo’ momma. You know where ‘da come to.”
I’ve never, ever had a momma (or a daddy) like that. Mine pushed me away. They weren’t strong enough to handle their own lives and messes and inner turmoil, much less the deep and growing, seeping mess of mine.
So I learned independence and independence became my savior.
I’m un-versed in attachment. I never learned the rules of relationship. I do “independent” destructively well.
But there in the voice of that momma, I hear the voice of my Daddy. He wants those unversed in attachment to stop running and “come to yo’ Daddy.”
I don’t have to be independent.
In fact, that is a lie. After sin entered the world, the first man and woman believed they had to run and hide. They believed they were on their own. Relationship was severed. Intimacy disorder became part of mankind’s birthright.
Yet God sought them out and He still stands at the door and knocks and anyone who opens up, He will come in…and bring dinner too! (Revelation 3:17f)
In spite of what we believe about ourselves and our condition, It’s a lie to continue thinking we must live independent.
I leave my corner table and go home in time for the family breakfast table and ask myself some hard questions.
What are the ways I run from relationship?
I ponder the ways and it all boils down to not giving presence. Giving presence is the building block, one gift on top of the other, of relationship. The more you give, the stronger and deeper the relationship.
Presence in the lovely and the unlovely. Presence when you know what to do and when you don’t. Presence when it’s convenient and when it’s not. Presence when it’s needed and presence when there isn’t awareness of need.
It is the way an infant is cared for and we consider the sleeplessness, the inconveniences, a small price for the precious life given us.
But then they get older by a year or two or ten and we expect them not to need presence. We punish them by taking presence away when they are un-lovely.
We substitute possessions for presence…just because it is more convenient and fits our busy lifestyles better.
We don’t know what to do, so we don’t do anything…forgetting that we always have presence to give.
Isn’t this how God Himself teaches us the ropes of relationship? “Fear not, for I am with you! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
We who confuse relationship. We think relationship is doing, going, buying, providing.
Relationship is mostly being. Together.
“God, an ever present help in time of need…”
So I ask how can a relational derelict like me be redeemed? It sure isn’t through independence.
The words come from the Ever-Present One: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Start investing. “
Later, I go look it up because I want to make sure the principle really is there in black and white. It is: Our hearts follow our treasure.
For a relational bum who treasures self protection and self preservation, the easiest way to change my heart then is to start investing in a different treasure chest. Start making deposits in a more lasting, more worthy account.
I can change investment plans.
I can reverse intimacy disorder.
I can give my children a different lineage.
It is Father’s words that succor me this time: “Remember, I was in the burning bush, and it burned but was not consumed. You feel that pouring out to all the needs of your loved ones will burn you clean up, dry you out, take every drop you’ve got… but where I am, the bush is not consumed.
“I’m in presence. I AM Presence. You will burn but not be consumed.”
I sit and jot down a Declaration of Dependence. It’s my new investment strategy. I’m learning the rules of relationship from Father and I need another Cheat Sheet. It’s crude but it’s a start.
4 ways to invest in relationships:
~Time: Give presence by limiting (even scheduling!) the time each family member spends on the rectangles in the home (TV, computer, ipod, DS, cell phone, etc) Replace rectangle time by drawing loved ones close instead and ask, “What do you want us to do together?”
~Touch: Set kitchen timer to chime every hour and draw little ones close for a short story in the recliner, a back scratch, or an “I Love You Ritual.”
~Talk: Be available whenever your spouse or children want to talk. Even when it’s at 11pm and you are dead tired. Or when it is your computer time. Make it a principle of life to prioritize presence, even when the demands seem downright unreasonable.
~Throne of Grace: Daily pray for each family member; fast once a week with spouse for children. Give presence before the Throne of God on behalf of your kids.
**Will be traveling most of July, investing in relationships. Sporadic appearances around here for awhile…