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in spite of myself

Lately I’ve been thinking about my sins.  Or rather what protestant Christianity would call my sins.  I’ve been thinking about the verses in the bible that talk about how children are punished for their parents’ sins.

Numbers 14:17-18 says this…

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’

For the past year or more, my youngest daughter has been smoking marijuana.  I know that to some, marijuana isn’t a big deal.  Honestly, I never thought much about it before.  It was always wrong to do drugs in my mind, but with the more lenient laws concerning marijuana in some places, I just didn’t think it was a big deal.  Until it was.  At first, I had no idea she was smoking it.  She joked about it, but I just never believed she was serious. And then it was serious.  She was missing school and blowing off tests.  She didn’t get to graduate with the rest of her class because of it.  She had to go to summer school just to finish her senior year.  She had a bad case of senioritis, but I feel as though the pot smoking made it worse.  She expressed an interest in trying other drugs because she wasn’t getting the high she wanted from the pot anymore.  It was definitely a gateway drug for her.  I drug tested her, set up some boundaries, and she promptly broke all the rules.  After much back and forth, I finally told her she couldn’t live in my house and smoke pot.  She didn’t have a job or any money.  Her car belongs to me and I pay for her phone.  I wasn’t going to support the life of a pothead when that’s all she was being.  Then she added xanax to the pot.  And it was worse.  I could tell when she was on it.  She stumbled around and could barely stay awake.  She wanted to sell her TV that she wasn’t using to buy stuff she would use, AKA cigarettes and weed.  I refused to let her even though it was 100% her TV and not purchased by me.

There’s more to her story, and maybe, hopefully, things will start turning around in the near future, but all of this had me thinking about my life choices. Was God punishing her because of my choices?  I know I was immersed in Christianity for 40 years.  I know that the helpless and hopeless way I feel concerning my daughter causes me to try to figure out why she’s making the choices she’s making.  I know I wasn’t the best parent, but the other kids aren’t making those same choices.  They don’t all have their lives together perfectly, but they aren’t living recklessly.  And the guilt I feel because of those damn bible verses frustrates me.

I remember when I was in high school and hearing about my Uncle who was unfaithful to my Aunt.  There was all kinds of talk about how we needed to pray for them and then finally there was a divorce and he married the other woman.  They are still married today.  But when his kids starting having issues, I remember thinking it was his fault.  He had three children and they all had different things going on in their lives.  I remember feeling so bad because the kids didn’t ask for their dad’s problems to be their problems.  One of my cousins died of health related problems (Crohn’s Disease, I think)  5 years ago, but I wondered if there had been drug abuse or anything like that as well.  I don’t know.  He’d had a hard life up until his death.  In my head, I think I blamed my Uncle for all his transgressions years ago.  Yesterday, I got word that another cousin died.  She was 50 and had been married and divorced 3 times.  She’d had a hard life and from what I’d heard over the years, blamed everyone else for her problems.  I haven’t heard how she died…they think from an accidental overdose of depression medicine.  I talked to this cousin back in December at my grandmother’s funeral.  She asked me if I was seeing someone.  I wasn’t sure how much she knew, so I started to talk and she interrupted and said they all knew that I was a lesbian now.  She was happy that I was happy.  She told me that she was an atheist, but that her mom didn’t like her to talk like that.  We didn’t talk long, but I was glad to get the chance to visit with her.  So now this Uncle and Aunt have lost two children and a grandchild drowned over 20 years ago in the midst of the cheating and divorce stuff.  And I feel so sorry for their family.  And in my heart, I know I can’t blame the Uncle, but the weight of my past wants to drag me to that place.

And I have to stop asking myself if my daughter’s issues are my fault.  She is making her own choices.  She knows right from wrong.

Me loving a woman and choosing to pursue that isn’t wrong.  I’m not hurting my children with that decision.  I have had to remind myself of that lately.

And speaking of that woman.  She is supportive of me and my kids and goes out of her way to help make their lives easier.  I am broken and messy, and she loves me in spite of myself.  I love and appreciate her so much.  I don’t show her how much she means to me nearly enough.  And she still loves me.  Sigh.

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