What a great title for a book, The Shiver. I still get the same kind of shiver from time to time that I talk about at the beginning of my story, The Promise. They are not brought on by the same traumatic experiences of my childhood. Instead, they are brought on by the familiar circumstances that surrounded that time in my life. It could be as simple as an old song, a smell, or the situations I find myself experiencing all over again.
One of those familiarities is the racial tension we are experiencing again. It takes me right back into the halls of Stenton child center and Germantown High school where I, a white girl, found myself on the other side of the issue. Racism goes both ways, and it begins with what we are taught to believe and is reinforced by what we experience for ourselves. While I experienced what it was like to be a minority, it felt as if I was a goldfish in a tank full of black mollies. I feared they might eat me alive. The shiver comes from fear and a constant effort to survive.
However, there was a time during my stay at Stenton when we no longer saw ourselves as diffèrent. It didn’t matter what color our skin was, we shared the commonality of the situation we found ourselves in. We were kids who had been abandon by our parents. It was what we felt underneath our skin that brought us together. If we could keep all the painful outside influences away from what brought us together we found harmony in each other. How easy those outside influences can make us forget the sacredness that brings us together, and helps us see ourselves in each other.
While all the familiarity congers up painful memories for me, it also reminds me how far I have come, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and who I have become as a result of it. If I don’t let myself learn from the worst of things I’ve experienced than everything I’ve gone through is for nothing, and all I’d be left with is an empty promise.
There are many characteristic of a fairy tale. Mine would be the one marked by seemingly unreal beauty, perfection, luck, love, and a happily ever after ending. But in real life embracing the fairy tale is like receiving a beautiful gift without any instructions on how to build it or care for it.
I had to unlearn my old ways, one thing at a time as they came into play. Like worry. Every one worries about things when the occasion merits it. That’s normal. But for me worry was the main focus of my everyday life. All of a sudden I’m living my beautiful dream and my only worry was what I would make for dinner. That wasn’t worrisome enough so I’d start worrying about when the rug was going to be pulled out from under me. When was Tom going to leave me like everyone else did.
I had no trouble trusting that God would never leave me, but it took a long time to put my faith and trust in another human being. The luck within my fairytale was having someone like Tom who constantly told me how much he loved me.
As I write this I realize that I do have a fairytale story with beauty, luck, love and a happily ever after ending. It’s all the in-between stuff that puts the meat and bones on our love story.
One of the things that helped me the most over the years was having friends to share my thoughts with. Knowing that others had the same goals, thoughts and concerns made me feel normal. It’s not right to leave people with the impression that everything is perfect. We learn and grow from each other.
My hope is that you will find this a place where you can share your thoughts and questions as well. We all have a valued amount of information stored up inside us. Why not pass the goodness on?
I leave you with a lesson on worry from—Winston Churchill.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
A reader of my story The Promise asked me what kind of work I did that gave me the ability to forgive my parents. It was a lifetime process that began when I got down on my knees and asked for the grace of forgiveness. I thought that my faith was strong enough that God would take all the pain of my past away. Little did I know at the time that when we pray for something, God isn’t going to fix it for us. He gives us lots of opportunities to practice and learn from it.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I must share with you that it was through the bond of motherhood that my relationship with Mom began to heal. She became a significant part of my life during that time when I had our four children. She loved being with them as much as they loved having her around, and I appreciated her help, too.
Today I choose to remember all the good things about my Mom. One of my fondest memories I have was sitting beside Mom as a child watching her zip together an outfit on the sewing machine. She would ask me to thread the needle for her when it needed it, and she taught me how to sew, too. She also taught me how to bake bread, crochet, as well as many other crafts. I remember how she held my hand as we walked to school for my first day of kindergarten. How her face lite up the moment I walked into the hospital after her knee surgery. The serving of apple crisp she brought into the hospital after each baby was born. The way she laid her head on my shoulder as she sat beside me knowing this was the last time she’d receive communion before passing away.
As mothers, we each do the best we can with what we know how to do. We all have grandiose ideas of the kind of mother we want to be, and then God gives us lots of opportunities to practice how to be that way. We learn from mistakes, but only after we forgive ourselves for making them. I am grateful for the blessings that motherhood has given me. For my mother, my children, my husband, and all we learned together along the way.
I haven’t wanted to promote my book too much while we were all living through the uncertainty of the coronavirus. It seems that the uncertainty is going to go on for quite a while yet. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to bring some kind of normalness back into my life.
I’m sitting down again first thing in the morning getting back to my commitment of writing at least two hours a day. I’ve had so many requests to write the next sequel of my story. Im playing around with titles such as Living The Promise and the last sequel being called, Beyond The Promise. We will see what comes of it and as always I will pray for guidance.
It would be very helpful if I knew what you the reader are looking for. What are your questions?
Are you curious to know how we’ve stayed in love all these years?
Are you curious to know how my past affected my future?
Are you curious how I taught myself to write?
Are curious why I left the church?
Everyone has a question that comes from someplace deep inside. Maybe my story trigured something in you and you want to know how someone else works there way through it. Let me because it will help me to gain a focus on which way to take this next part.
People often ask me how you can remember such details from your past.
It is as if the heart stops for a moment while the brain absorbs the shock of the hearts piercing. That memory has nowhere to go. It wanders around in your mind and flashes like a lightning bolt with the blow of thunder that strikes right before the memory comes flooding back, and the tears rain from your eyes.
You don’t forget the things that pierce your heart.
But as a child, we can often distort what was really going on. We only remember the worst of what happened to us. In my therapy sessions, my therapist would have me go back to an event in my life as the adult I am today. I’d sit beside my younger self and observe the situation from an adult point of view. I could see that what was going on didn’t have anything to do with me. There was a lifetime of problems that surround my parents that created the things that happened. I could then take the hand of my inner child and show her that it wasn’t her fault. That it’s alright now, we survived it, and it’s not worth holding onto anymore. It didn’t take away from the fact that I was indeed a victim of my parent’s circumstances, and it didn’t justify their actions, but it helped me to know it wasn’t my fault, and I could let it go now if I wanted to.
A heartwarming story of resilience though faith and love.The Promise is an inspirational story of faith, hope, and love. Connie really gets into the voice of a 14 year old and although I was fortunate enough not to experience the awful situation she was in, I could remember my self doubts of adolescences. I volunteer as a court appointed advocate for children taken out of their homes. I have been working with a boy who has been in care since he was 12. He is now 18 and has been moved from one facility to another. The pain, sadness and rejection he feels is heartbreaking. Connie expresses this so well. Thank you, Connie, for having the courage to tell your story and making us aware of what these kids experience.
Thank you for your wonderful response. It is a confirmation for me that my story is touching those who need to hear it.