My Post Secret
Allow me to write as the bastard child of '69. My parents spent a few weeks at the beach in March of that year; smoking dope, drinking beer, and sleeping in the car. My mother came home carrying the newest member of the family; although that would be news to her and her parents soon enough.
In those years in small town south Alabama unmarried mothers dared not to show their faces at church. Not even my grandparents went to church after the news became public. The shame for people like me starts before we take our first free breath. By the time the cord is cut we are forever tied to the sins of our parents.
I was born on a cold, cloudless day in December. My parents didn't have the money for the hospital bill, so my grandfather paid the $100 for my ransom so I could be taken to my new home, which just happened to be my grandparent's house. Not even a week old and already my life was a story of poverty and handouts.
I don't know how old I was when I realized my parents were never married. No one ever told me that, as far as I can remember, but very early I knew there were no wedding bands, no wedding pictures, no certificate, no stories for which I could be proud.
But I do remember the violence. I remember the drunkenness, the smell of beer and urine and vomit. To this day I can vividly recall watching people get high, the way smoke hangs in the air, and how you cannot wake people who have passed out.
I remember screams in the car, fights in the yard, yelling, and more screaming. Few of my preschool memories do not include some act of abuse or violence or abandonment. I was once a little boy sitting on the back steps listening to the battle going on in the house in the middle of the night. The violence eventually stopped. A door was torn off the hinges. My dad was gone forever. My mother was broken on the floor. I stayed on the steps out back. It was the safest place I knew in the world.
God looks out for fools and little children. I've heard that many times, and in my case some part of it is true. I was not alone that night on the back steps. I know now there is a God who sees children who are just trying to stay out of the way.
Fast forward a few years. Someone noticed the single mom and her two children. Someone cared enough to invite them to church. My mother still couldn't bring herself to attend, but she did allow me and my sister to go. One Sunday morning the God who had been watching over me from the beginning took my hand and heart in a way that I still cannot put into words. From that moment until now I've had a Father.
Fast forward a few more years. My Father called, it was more like a whisper, but he made it clear. He spoke of what matters most in life. He spoke to me of direction and a purpose to pursue for the rest of my days. I just remember being thankful, being overjoyed, being safe.
Time fails me to fill in the gaps; to write of the change and the growth and the healing that occurred through the years. My life is a story of redemption, a story that is still being written. What began in shame, sin, and struggle was transformed by the love of God who is greater than all three.
Today I pastor a church in small town south Alabama. In fact, each Sunday I preach not five miles from the old farm house where my mother once told her parents about me for the first time. Sometimes I drive through the little town my mother felt she had to escape. I usually take a moment to notice the church my family felt they could not face.
And when I park beside the church where I pastor I often say a prayer; a prayer of thankfulness to the God who changed my life. Then I look out over the town around me and wonder how many others out there are like I once was. Such thoughts motivate me to look a little closer, to notice a little more, and to take the extra time to make sure people know I care. The Father is always watching.
Posted by Taylor Hodges at 28.1.12