Which Coffee Roast Friend Are You?

You are a most blessed and fortunate person if you have or had a close friend or two. Decades into life and I’ve never had a friend. I’ve had countless short-lived casual “friend” relationships via church, school, neighborhood and/or the community. However, never have I had a close, enduring friend. The bible tells us that true friends stick closer than a brother.

Each time I hear that, I chuckle for my siblings and I have never been close. As we have aged, our ties are greater than in our younger years, but none of the three of us have the kind of bond which the bible cites.

For my entire life, I have prayed and longed for a true friend. Circumstances and life have prevented such, but I continue to seek an enduring friendship. Years ago I read an article which compared friendships to coffee. I diligently searched for the internet article, but it has long since vanished into cyber space.  The author compared friendships to types of coffee: strong roast-vivacious and outgoing, often times “in your face” giving unsolicited advice, which then causes me to spew them out.   Medium roast-someone whom is there for you, without the drama or intensity of the strong roast, but you know they are a constant.   The mild roast-they may be there with a hug and comforting word of encouragement, but also may be the short-lived friends, for they aren’t as strong as the dark and medium roast. Nonetheless, it is beneficial to have all roasts of coffee friends during our lifetime. Each of them has a lesson to share with us.

At times, I would accept any type of coffee friend. The countless moves during my life, the loss of my marriage, family and home all caused many friends to disperse. As I have learned over the years, God most often brings us friends “for a season.”  When I plead for a friend, usually God provides for that time of my life. Many of these friends I had hoped, prayed and trusted would remain long-term. That was not their plan nor Gods, so I just have to be grateful they filled an empty spot in my heart and life before they moved onto another coffee break with the person God placed them with. Proverbs 18:24 NKJ “…But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

An Interview With God

Prayer may be the most discussed topic of the Christian life. We know it is the primary mode of communication with God. For those of us who truly seek His will for our lives, we rely on seeking His answers to our prayers. Also, as I have shared in my previous blogs, I know that if I’m not in God’s divine will, I may be in a state of confusion or unhappiness.

It’s also an encouragement to me when I read of countless other Christians that struggle with understanding God’s direction for their lives. As I read a devotion today by Marion Stroud, her words spoke to me, “But Lord while being thankful for the privilege, I do get puzzled about the process of prayer…knowing that there are prayers I pray month after month, year after year, and still do not see the longed for change within myself and others.”

I’ve always known we can’t change others. We must change ourselves, but I too have prayed that God would give me the peace and strength to handle and understand some of the disappointments and distresses bestowed upon me by others. I grasp so many of God’s promises during these difficult times such as Matthew 7:7 when He promises, “ask and it shall be given.” I prayed for a healed marriage, an estranged child, a sale of my house so I could move forward with my life. Yet, none of these prayers have been answered. One of the prayers for 50 years, another 25 years and the least three years. Each of these prayers were earnest and heartfelt, so I have to say, “God, why?”

We may not always understand God’s rationale in seeming to not hear us, but we always have an interview with Him.  As Mark Porter cited, “Executives are hard to see-their costly time I may not waste-I make appointments nervously and talk to them in haste. But any time of night or day in places suitable or odd, I seek and get without delay an interview with God.”  Matthew 7:7 KJV Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Respect Requires Work-Conclusion

I could blog for days about respect as it is  understated and overlooked, but I will conclude this subject for now.  As I closed yesterday, I noted my son has never respected me as his mother nor even as a fellow human being.   I observe him treating his wife, daughters, sister and mother-in-law with great respect.

As another Mother’s Day came and went this year, again there was not even a text, or e-mail wishing me well; let alone anything greater. The other perplexing issue is he was with me and other family literally hours prior to Mother’s Day (for a family college, graduation) and he could have at least wished me a good day then, but he departed, not uttering a word.

When someone addresses another and they refuse to acknowledge that person, that is disrespect. When someone makes a telephone call, sends a text, e-mail or snail mail requesting information, but the recipient refuses to return the inquiry, that is disrespect. These are not isolated instances but have been customary with my ex-husband, Charles and now my son for almost 50 years. The emotional abuse has been extreme and the disrespect equal.

When Charles left me and began his affair while we were still married, he lacked the integrity to inform me why he was abandoning our 44-year marriage. Over six years later, I learned of his affair as happenstance. (I know God allowed it, but nonetheless Charles had not possessed the veracity to be honest). When I pleaded for an understanding, Charles only reply was that he had not loved me for most of our marriage; disrespect and lack of morality.

As he abandoned me while in my 60’s, I asked if he would be there for me, if I had a need. Even though his words were “yes”, he was not honest. Charles meets his lover’s every need; physically and/or emotionally. Yet, I’m now left to fend for myself; no matter how significant the need. As Charles attends family events, he refuses to even acknowledge my presence; disrespect.

Disrespect for another person is never permissible. The CEO of the most successful company deserves no more respect than the homeless person. As I noted when I began this blog, respect can be given and/or earned, but even when one doesn’t know another, then are courtesies which are basic. It takes a person with far greater integrity than wealth to treat others with the same kind of respect which they desire to be treated.  Eph. 4:32 NIV, “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” God doesn’t command us to do this “if we feel like it.”

Respect Requires Work-Part One

As I return to the subject of respect, there are as many varied opinions as there are individuals. As I researched what others may say about respect, Susanne Slay-Westbrook noted,  “Healing from brokenness is a long and arduous process at best. We know that (when) we compile hurt upon hurt the healing process just gets more and more complex. Just saying that we need more respect in the world may sound way too simple—glib even. But in reality, respect requires a lot of hard work from each of us. It requires a very focused mindset of compassion, forgiveness and an openness to really hearing and understanding what others are trying to say.”

How often we may be disrespected because people don’t understand us, nor do they desire to do so.  The lack of respect within my small family began when our children were toddlers. When I would discipline them, one of the children always insisted on “tattling to Daddy” and the cycle of disrespect began. Because my ex-husband of 44 years touted only months ago that he didn’t love me for the majority of our marriage, his disrespect (and also his lack of love and compassion) toward me was transferred to our two children.

Why should they respect me, if their own father didn’t? Thus, now over four decades later, my son refuses to respect me. I know I’m not a perfect person and thus an imperfect parent, but never have I said or done anything to be disrespected for over 27 years of my son’s life. As Susanne noted, “as we compile hurt upon hurt the healing process gets more complex.” For years, I’ve pleaded with my ex-husband and son for an understanding of why they have treated me with such disdain and disrespect. With each, they have refused any form of discernment.

My ex-husband noted he married because he felt he would be more successful in his career. He also reminded me countless times that he would have preferred being single, so he could live as he chose. Thus, to our son, if I were not valued as a wife, why would I be valued as a mother? I will conclude part two of this blog at a later date.

The Gift of Support

Dear Blog Followers, I’m deviating from my continuation of respect today to tell of a blessing. I’ve shared that I do much volunteer work, not only to give back, but to take the focus off my own disappointments and sorrow and place it upon others whom have greater needs than mine.

Today was a wonderful gift of support. I volunteer in a faith-based organization helping those in need. We pray with anyone whom desires prayer and support. One precious lady was filled with God’s love, as she noted she never looks back in her life, only forward. I told her I need to heed her advice as I’ve been looking back after my ex-husband of 44 years left me and began an affair. I said I’ve looked behind, asking “what could I have done differently,  why he never loved me (since he informed me he didn’t love me for most of our 44 year marriage) and how I could have known what was happening so I didn’t have to endure such despair?

Her kindness touched my heart as she took my hands in hers and asked to pray for me; that God would bring me a new man, a man to love me as I had loved my husband. Tears filled my eyes. I have prayed this for the past several years, as I’ve remained alone on my life’s path.  I walked into the organization today to encourage others, but I was the one today whom was inspired.

You never know when you can be that “light to another.” We don’t have to be wealthy to bestow great riches to another.  Eph. 4:32 NIV, “Be kind and compassionate to one another…”

Beat Her More

As I continue with my discussion of respect whether it is earned and/or given, I recall most vividly reading the words in Rick Warren’s book,  The Purpose Driven Life, on page 25 a portion of Russell Kelfer’s poem: “ The parents you had were the ones he chose, And no matter how you may feel, They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind, And they bear the Master’s seal. No that trauma you faced was not easy. And God wept that it hurt you so; But it was allowed to shape your heart So that into His likeness you’d grow.”

I literally wept for hours as I read those words, for I had wondered for years how parents could hate a child as much as mine hated me. Yet, they did, and I endured! My mother died at age 89 and never once told me she loved me. I conveyed my love to her because I was so hopeful she would love me in return. I never loved her, but I respected her role as my mother. She didn’t earn my respect, but I gave it.

One of the most severe beatings occurred when I was 17 years old. As had been the routine for my entire life, I was mandated to do the housework for our family of five.  As a very obedient child and teen, on that day I respectfully pleaded to be able to wash the dishes upon my return back from the Future Homemakers Convention in downtown Oklahoma City. I was riding with my two neighbors, each seniors whom had a car. Because I never owned a car until I was in my 20’s, I needed transportation to the meeting.

Upon hearing my request, my mother hurriedly dashed off to locate my father and asked him to “take care of me.” The term “take care of me” meant only one thing, “beat Jane to a pulp” and he did. However on this day, not only did he beat me unmercifully with the belt buckle until I bled, but he had pulled up my dress humiliating me. As he beat me and beat me, my sister was screaming “Daddy please stop. You are going to kill her.” Mom was yelling, “beat her more.”  When Dad concluded the beating, I was commanded to go to the FHA meeting. The sorrow I endured from that incident is permanent. Certainly, the physical assault healed, but the beating left a scar upon my heart for an eternity.

My parents did not deserve love nor respect, but I gave it to them for God instructed me to do so. Exodus 20:12 NKJ, “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land…”

NO DHS

As I noted yesterday in my blog, the subject of respect is so encompassing it will take longer than one to two days to share my personal perspective of the subject. I was reared at the hands of extremely abusive parents, so severe that over 50 years later, a happenstance with a neighbor from those childhood days gave us the opportunity to converse. She and her family lived several houses away, but they heard my screams as my father beat me profusely. Unfortunately, it was pre-DHS days (1950’s-1960’s) so there was no one to intervene; no one to aid me in my pleas and cries for help.

However, years later when I was a wife and mother in my 30’s, one of my counselors required that I discuss my past with anyone whom might have known me as a child and teen.  I contacted my pastor from those years and yes, he admitted he knew I was abused, for I came to church with bruises and injuries, but it wasn’t “his business” to interfere (as he cited).

I also telephoned my maternal uncle whom resided out of state. I had seen him only two or three times after my parents left their home state of OH but was hopeful he could give me some insight. Uncle Dick was aware of the abuse when I was a mere infant. He said when I was not yet one year of age, my father would grab me out of my highchair by one arm and beat me; for what Dad my have deemed horrible wrong doings by an infant. Uncle Dick believed the abuse had ceased and was saddened to know it never stopped.

As I shared with him, no it had only increased and even now as a adult with my own life, the emotional abuse from my father was as intense as the days he was harshly beating me.  Nonetheless, in spite of the maltreatment at the hands of my parents, I respected the role they had in my life. Exodus 20:12 NKJ “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land…”