Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stripes

We don't make a huge deal of Halloween, but I do let my kids dress up, and I usually end up taking them to the fall carnival type thing held at our church. It's usually a ton of fun for everybody, kids and adults alike. It's what we did on Tuesday. I was tired to begin with, and then DQ threw a hissy fit (we don't call her Drama Queen for nuthin'!) so by the time we got there, I was already having kind of a rough day. Maybe that went into my reaction when I saw the man in stripes.

He was standing at the table by the entrance, greeting people and handing out maps and goodie bags. I recognize his face from being at that church for 7 years, but I don't know his name. I'm sure to most people, his costume was clever. I didn't find it to be so though, and I was hoping my 6 year old wouldn't make the connection of what the man's costume was. He was dressed as a prisoner. The thing was, he had an actual set of clothes from the local county jail. The black and white stripes, the red letters that say "Sheriff's Inmate - Unsentenced" - it was the real deal. The only thing that was missing was the pink underwear and pink handcuffs mandated by our fine sheriff, but that's a rant for a different day. I don't know if my reaction would have been different if it were a fake costume, or perhaps clothing from a different jail, but I felt a stab of pain shoot through my spirit when I saw his outfit. See, it was the same set of stripes that my now ex-husband wore for almost a year, and it's what he was wearing the last time I saw him. I said hello to this man at the church festival, accepted the map, made small talk... asked him how ever did he get his hands on that get up, but deep down, I was hurting. The memories seeing that uniform brought back...

Then I started having an internal argument with myself. It went something like this:
OUCH! It hurts to see that uniform...
Oh stop being a baby! You're healed, remember? It's all in the past!
But certain things still trigger certain feelings, I can't help it.
You CAN help it, don't let it bother you!
Quit being so mean!
Quit being such an idiot!
and on and on... :P

As we walked through the church campus finding other things to do, my thoughts veered away from the stripes, and the kids had fun as usual. I was still in a not so great frame of mind, but I didn't think about the man in the stripes much until I tried to take a nap before work. I was surprised at how strong the emotional response was at that. They're just clothes! But when I really thought about it, what those stripes meant...

Seeing him in those stripes the first time was so hard. It wasn't like we had this awful nasty marriage and I was glad to see him go. I loved him very much and you just don't turn that off overnight like a water faucet. Christ's cross was for this too, and I was pretty sure God still loved him. So the first time I saw him in the stripes, I knew they meant he'd never be home again. While I wasn't sure I wanted him to be, I was sure I didn't want all that had happened and was about to happen. The last time I saw him was at his sentencing hearing on February 11, 2005. He was wearing the same stripes and shackles. So much had changed since the first time I saw him dressed that way. That last day I chose to keep silent in court rather than make any kind of statement, because anything I could have said would not have inspired the judge to have mercy. Every time that I saw him in those stripes was so emotionally charged - from the day he begged me not to divorce him to the day he was finally able to put in words out loud what he did to my daughter. From the first time I saw him without freedom to that last day when we learned he would not be free again for the next 30 years.

Everytime something comes up that I react to strongly, I spend time chastising myself for not being farther along the road of healing. But this time, eventually I remembered that it's not a destination, it's a journey. Some things are going to be harder than others. I've been trying to force myself to be healed. Then I remembered some other stripes. The ones Jesus bore on the Cross - for MY redemption and MY HEALING. By HIS STRIPES, we're healed! Why do I always forget that?

Thank God for stripes.

4 comments:

nina said...

Connie, you are an amazing woman with great strength. It was heartwrenching to read your post this morning but your faith has made it so inspiring. I am grateful you are able to be so open about your pains, it really helps us heal our troubles as well. Hope your day is good.

Erna said...

Wow . . . that would be a heartwrenching moment in life to be reminded of on an already stressful day. I liked how you focused on the stripes of the Lord at the end.

Julie said...

Whenever something very traumatic happens, our souls have deep wounds that require much love and time to heal.

Please don't feel guilty about your response... you're human! Yes, by HIS stripes we are healed. But we are NOT robots, void of feelings.

We aren't to allow our feelings to control us, but it's not a sin to involuntarily react to something. Healing is a process. A process of forgiving, letting go, & choosing to bless the one who hurt us.

Cut yourself some slack, girl, and run into the Lord's arms. HE is waiting to love you and comfort you.

Eagles Wings said...

Wow, I am so sorry that happened to you and your little girl.
But I have to agree with Julie..cut yourself some slack girl! and remember Zephaniah 3:17 (nkjv) "The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

Blessings
EaglesWings