Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FAMILY (01/21/16)
TITLE: Living in the Colorful Chaos
By Francie Snell
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There's a lot I don't remember from my childhood, probably due to the fact that I really don't want to. I believe it's referred to selective memory. Denial is another term I've heard. However, I've come up with my own definition for having a hazy recall: adaptive coping skills.
What I do remember, however, is that it was far from a wholesome Christian upbringing. God was seldom discussed except during arguments when my mother and older brother vehemently agreed that God most surely did not exist. That was the only thing they agreed upon. They would argue about anything. Seldom was there any peace in our house.
I was the youngest in a family of five, living in a middle class neighborhood in the California Bay Area. Even amidst the social upheaval of the 60's, we stood out as a problematic household; at least that's what the local police reported on many occasions, and the local newspaper, at least once…maybe more. The journalists didn't mention any names which preserved our anonymity, so our relatives didn't know we were the family involved in those momentous events. Our neighbors, however, were more privy to the exciting happenings right on their street. They probably would have voted us Most Deviant Family on the block had there been such an award. We were like a blazing icon of those turbulent times.
My immediate family was a conundrum in itself, but adding to that the collection of peculiar aunts, uncles, and cousins, there weren't just a few black sheep; we were a full-blown flock.
I muse at some people who painstakingly devote hundreds of hours researching their genealogy, perhaps hoping to find they're a descendant of some regal person of renown. That's not for me. I know better. I see enough to know I don't want to dig any deeper. I'm already dismayed, wondering exactly what went awry in our gene pool. That's as far as my curiosity dare takes me. So I think it best to leave the sordid details of the past a mystery, and in my own little world, make believe that I'm somehow related to Joan of Ark.
When considering my family's shortcomings, I can say now, in all honesty, that I wouldn't have changed them if I could. With all of their cagey, quirky, volatile, wacky, and sometimes wonderful behaviors, they were a colorful group indeed. I suppose more mundane and less contentious temperaments would have been easier to deal with no doubt. But God gave me the challenge for a reason, and in the grand design, knew precisely what He was doing.
Most anyone can find reason to grieve over his or her biological family for one reason or another; but my main and foremost regret is that most of mine died too soon. Longevity was not their strong point.
Self-abuse took a toll on most of them, and over the course of five of my teenage years, my mother, father, and two brothers died premature deaths for various reasons. Numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins also died untimely deaths during my early adult life. In a rather short period, a wave of death swept over our family leaving only a few of us behind.
I felt numb watching them depart, one after another. I started losing track of who had died, and many of their funerals I did not attend.
After enduring the chaos of my younger years, I became a child of God at age twenty-four. I took a much different course in life. And now, later on in my years, I look back to reminisce, hopefully to somehow tell the story. Then I look ahead, eager for what the Lord has in store. It is a grander picture than I can see or understand. Even so, I trust Him with my past, present, and future.
He has shaped me through my experiences, and the more extraordinary they were, the stronger an impression they've made. I'm still standing, and comparatively speaking, that's a lot to boast about.
So why am I grateful to have grown up in such a mess? Because that's where God placed me, and knew where He would take me all along.
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