growing up unrestrained

This is part two of my story. 

The days before child restraints were awesome! We laid in the back windshield or the floor board of the car. We piled up pillows between us when my mom wanted us to hush and stop fighting. My big brother, Matt, and I would sit in the back seat of our Chrystler New Yorker and see whose feet could touch the floor board. I carved his name into the hood of that car with a rock. Yes, I did. That car talked. It would tell us “a door is ajar” or “your fuel is low”.

I don’t remember being told, “Don’t get dirty,” or “No, you can’t help me.” From what I can remember, my childhood was wild and free. We didn’t have to go to school on our birthday! Sometimes we’d skip and all go to the beach. My mom took me places with her and skipped in the parking lot with me, holding hands. Lots of time outside, lots of time playing imaginative games with my brother in our underwear. (I realized recently that my kids don’t let loose enough. They’d freak out if I told them not to wear pants while they watched a movie!) We watched Mighty Mouse and Tom & Jerry, but never He-man, because “Only God is the Master of the Universe.”

My mom helped me remember that at some point I started to come home everyday from school crying because I felt left out. I had all kinds of social awkwardness and it all stemmed from the feeling that no one really wanted me there. Rejection. I don’t know when it started or if there was a specifically traumatic event that sparked this, but I would go on to struggle with it my whole life. To this day, when I make a phone call I worry that the person I’m calling will feel disappointed that it’s just me, and I will definitely assume that if they don’t answer it’s because they didn’t want to talk to me or had something more important to do. Even as a child I felt this. I felt like every time someone whispered they were talking about me. (I don’t feel that way anymore, for the record.) Every giggle was because I had a booger on my nose that I didn’t know about or because my clothes were stupid or…

I had to take speech therapy at my new school when we moved. It worked! Although once Brent convinced me I had a speech impediment still, for like a whole day. When I was in third grade my great-grandmother (my Grandad’s mom) passed away. I was really sad about it, and I think this was the first time someone died and I really understood that they were gone and not coming back.

Sometime around this I had a birthday party that involved a slip n slide and wrapped up with a Petra concert! Rockin! 

My fourth grade year ushered in a very difficult decade for my parents. The church they pastored was experiencing a real, legit, revival. People were actually getting saved and sticking around. I can remember hearing testimonies from drug addicts being set free. A “rock band” was playing the Sunday morning worship. The church elders were not happy. I guess they were much like the religious elite of Jesus’ time. Details are foggy for me, but I do remember that they stopped paying my dad. (My parents were about to buy a house that sat right behind the church.) A smear campaign involving lies and secret meetings was difficult for my parents to bear. They stayed for the sake of the work of the gospel that was being done in that small Florida city. I saw my dad weep a lot. Not cry. Weep. This was perhaps the greatest work of his ministry, and some old nasty jealous men were just sending it all up in flames. Maybe this is when my fear of rejection really set in. What makes me the most sad now, is to imagine the confusion that the new believers must have felt, and how the lies that these men spread about a good pastor tarnished the testimony that could have been.

Matt and I got sent away for the summer to Virginia to stay with my Mamaw and Papaw. There wasn’t much to do there, but that summer was probably one of the funnest of my life. We sat outside under the kitchen window and listened to Mamaw fuss while she did the dishes. We watched Papaw work his garden. Matt would sit and make up funny stories to make me laugh when I felt sad.

I can’t remember when we came back home, but I’m pretty sure we moved to a house on a big hill. About 100 people left that church and came with my parents to start a non denominational church. My parents were hurt and not the same for a very long time.   Am I going to slow? I’m working up to big big things that I realized as I was writing all of this out (in much longer format) in my journal. Write your story, people!