My head was in the way. That’s never a good thing. I can’t write from my head. It doesn’t work. The last thing I want to do is waste your time. The best I can give you must start and end with my heart. And when it does, I know. There is a release, a sort of birth. Sure there may be pain in the process but I am certain it was worth it. When I bypass my heart, for whatever reason, it’s best I hit Trash.
And that’s what I did after spending the weekend working on a piece in response to my continued journey through the Bible.
But before I let it go, I want to give it one more try. My third.
So I had hung in there through the first 16 Chapters of Leviticus, but then came 17. It was a hard read for me. I looked it up and found that it’s sometimes called the bloody chapter. I really worked at trying to find any kind of parallel to present day life or to my own experience. The best I could muster up was remembering being the last one of my friends to get my period. And I knew that was a stretch. Irrelevant at best, and certainly self focused.
I remembered I had learned about reproduction in health class at school. It wasn’t something my mom felt comfortable talking to me about. I realized, it wasn’t that she ignored me or avoided me, but she was a farm girl. These things weren’t talked about within the four walls of her home. I can understand that better now, but for many years I wondered about it. I wondered why her distance when it came to connecting to me on something so important to a girl, her daughter, stepping into young womanhood.
There were other things too I had wondered about and stored away that came back. Questions. What had she been thinking? Why had I sensed hurt and sometimes anger when I didn’t know what I had done to cause it. Did she really love me? That was the question my heart asked then buried.
When her voice woke me from a dream this weekend, it wasn’t a tone of love but of anger. It left me shaken and looking for answers in Leviticus, because that’s where I had been reading. I really tried, but I couldn’t find any. And it’s no wonder. These were regulations and laws for God’s chosen people, the Israelites. They had just come from Egypt where they had been exposed to all kinds of things that God didn’t want for them. Things like sacrificing to “goat demons” and adultery and stealing and cheating their neighbors. You know. Things that hurt them instead of helped. Things that defiled them rather than built them up.
Her harsh words from my dream stayed with me throughout the day and I searched back looking for answers that could explain my mom’s distance and anger at times in our relationship. I remembered being hurt not long before she died and I have held onto it. I unintentionally upset her by writing a story about my late brother. It was my gift to honor him but to her it brought back his death. It brought out anger. “Why did God take him?” She had questioned, and who wouldn’t? Her first born gone too young. “I wanted to grow deeper in my intimacy with the Father,” she told me she had prayed. “And He took my son.”
Sometimes we misdirect our anger at those we feel safe with. Like the Father did to Jesus…? Why did Jesus have to carry the burden of His Father’s anger when He didn’t do anything wrong. I know I have been the one to hurt Him, not Jesus. I have stepped outside of His commandments, not Jesus. But Jesus went to the cross, not me.
The laws in Leviticus were for the Israelites before they entered Canaan. These were not laws for the Gentiles. There was a New Covenant made. A covenant of new life, and mercy, forgiveness and grace. My sins are forgotten because of the blood shed on the cross. Because of Jesus’ death. Because God took out His anger on the One He felt safe with. Suddenly, well not suddenly, I’d been struggling with this for days, I understood. I could read the Old Testament but had to embrace the New Covenant. Yes, there was blood. And I realized the parallel to my life, my present day connection. We are forgiven so we are to forgive. It was time to dig up old hurts buried that were holding me back so I could embrace God’s love. And also my mother’s. And that is all about my heart.
Photo by my friend Bill Kissinger of my mom and me