the meeting

Time to Go

Time to Go

The dust has settled, the boxes are packed. A pile of trash stacked six feet high is collected in the front yard with a big sign that says “Free”. A pile of cardboard boxes and broken things are stacked in the back of the house waiting to be loaded up in the truck to be taken to the dump. Everything in between is swept up or taped shut or in a pile to be put away in the house somewhere. The garage sale is officially over. The dogs are happy because they are lose to run the property again.

My parents are at meeting (church) and I’m left to be the cleaning fairy and hopefully do ten loads of laundry and maybe my mom’s dishes that she hasn’t been able to get to in three days. But as I sit here in the quiet of what has been a noisy roar these last few days, my thoughts clamor around in my brain begging to be written down and possibly put to rest.

Whenever I spend more than a day or two with my mom and dad in my old home town, the inevitable subject gets brought up. The subject is never far from anyone’s thoughts. So it didn’t surprise me at all when it came up after dinner last night.

We went to dinner with my grandfather and my aging great aunt. As we were leaving my Grandpa hugs me and asks if he’ll see me at meeting on Sunday. Sadly, I have to smile and tell him no. I see the disappointment in his face. He is crestfallen. It hurts me that I have to keep hurting him in this way. His life is centered around serving God. He is a true Christian in every sense of the way. He only wants the best for me and in his mind going to meeting would be just that. The point that we differ on is that I don’t want to be part of the meeting any more.

I could go on and on and on about this. And in my own weary brain I am. I know every argument and I know that I must examine my own motives before I go launching into judging others. Is it pride that keeps me from wanting to go back? Is it that I want to justify my choices? Is it just the fact that I don’t want to give them another chance to reject me? Is it that I want to run run run away from my relatives that say hurtful things? What it boils down to is that I am more afraid of the people, than I am of God.

I have a clean conscience before God. He knows everything I’ve done and I have peace with that. I’m not hiding anything. But just the same, I don’t think I need to dredge up every wrong thing I’ve ever done and put it on display for the meeting people to say, “Brenda is such a wanton woman, she must grovel, grovel, grovel to us to prove to us that she will never go astray again.” or “Oh, that Brenda, she is such a villain. Let us learn from her example and keep our children from going to colleges far away and learning the evil doctrines of the world.”

That makes me so angry when I see that happen. I understand why it happens. If I had kids, I’d want to protect them from making bad choices too. But I hate it more than anything when I see my parents being judged for my choices. My dad really believes that it is his fault that I’ve left the meeting because he let me go to college in a town far away. If he could have kept me close I would have married a nice meeting boy and lived happily ever after. And maybe I would have. But I would still be me. I would still be struggling against the confines of my close knit family that makes me feel afraid every time I make a choice that might not be in line with theirs’. Seriously, I think it would come down to what color skirt I wore, or what I bought at the grocery store. Or if I skipped town for a day and didn’t call and invite somebody to go with me. Some day we would have disagreed on something and I would still be the black sheep of the family.

No matter how many people have good intentions in wanting me to come back, it will eventually come down to something like this. Every member of the meeting has their own take on what I must do to be accepted back into the fold. I don’t have the time, nerve or fortitude to jump through every body’s hoops. I will never be able to please everyone. Making it past the first round of family members would probably cause me to commit more horrendous deeds than I’ve already done. Sometimes I think the only way to be accepted is to lead a double life. Put on a front that you are this or that and keep who you really are, a deep dark secret. As anyone knows, who has read anything on this blog, I’ve never been one to keep secrets. Which is really the whole reason I created “Secret Agent Josephine” in the first place…

And that is why I can never spend more than two or three days in my old home town.

p.s. Sorry to drag everyone through my dirty laundry but sometimes you just have to write it down to get things sorted out. The garage sale was fun and in the end we made $300 plus probably $40 in pennies that we haven’t counted yet.