closure on the long journey home

There was an unexpected result that came from accepting the circumstances of my life.

I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness by my mentally ill mother. My parents were divorced, and I was the only child of an only child. I was left feeling like I had few family connections, particularly on my mother’s side of the family. My religious upbringing left me feeling that organized religion was something oppressive, something to be feared. When I first went to a “normal” church in my thirties, I felt certain I would be somehow singled out and either asked to leave or – worse yet – not allowed to leave. Actually, I didn’t know what to expect.

I told the world about my path to finding happiness after sadness. Or at least I told most of the world. Those who know my mother personally did not seem to realize the path her life took after her schizophrenia peaked in the 1990s. And how could they? At one point, she left town suddenly without telling anyone where she was going or why. By the time I found her again, she was in dire circumstances. My tenuous connections to her family had already been lost as individual members passed away, and it was up to me and various social service organizations to figure out what could be done to help someone who could no longer understand the reality of her life. So I (and later, my husband) worked to help her find a more stable situation that met her needs. Still, I wondered what her family would think if I told them she was mentally ill, or that I had written a book about my work of acceptance. In other words, would THEY accept what I had already been made to accept?

The answer came recently when a cousin-once-removed (we share the same great-grandparents) found me on facebook. She was warm and – amazingly – already knew about my mother’s mental illness from others in the family. In hearing this news, a weight of uncertainty was lifted. My mother’s family understood. It’s just that she had just fallen off the Earth and no one knew what had happened to her or where she was. It felt like closure on a long journey home.

Through acceptance, I discovered the acceptance of others.

In another aspect of life, I found a church that embraces love, grace, and acceptance. Sundays are no longer stressful, but rejuvenating. We do not need to earn God’s love, because God is love. It is how I have always understood God, and now I have a church that supports me in my spiritual journey. A month ago, they asked me to be a Deacon of the church. I was both surprised and deeply moved. It felt like closure on a long journey home. I had fled from experiences of fear and exclusion and found a home in a church that focuses on inclusion and love. My church knows my odd past and accepts my journey.

Through acceptance, I discovered the acceptance of others.

The people who have come to me to show their acceptance have shown the fullness of the circle of truth. For it is through living in truth that we have hope of finding others like us and those who will accept us: those who acknowledge the courage of my journey, just as I acknowledge the courage of theirs. We are sisters and brethren on the path to Becoming.




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