Friday, February 19, 2010

Voice II

In the early days after my conversion, I heard the Voice regularly. Prayer to me was a dialogue with the Voice. I would ask for lessons, and things would happen. Or, out of the blue, the Voice would task me with something, always something that I did not want to do.

One early example was the day when praying about something entirely different, the Voice interrupted me with the words, “Call your mother.” To understand the significance of this, one must know that my mother (my only living parent) had so abused her eight children both as children and as adults and abused our children (her grandchildren) as well that all of the “8-pack” (my seven siblings and I) had written her off. I had not been in touch with her for ten years, and I certainly had no intention of just up and calling her for no reason at all. In fact, it would take some sleuthing to find out where she lived and what her phone number was.

So, this did not seem right. I was sure I had not heard correctly. “There is no way I am going to call my mother,” I responded. “She is a bad person.”

“She lives in grace,” responded the Voice, and that was the end of the communication.

I fumed and sputtered about it all being so unfair, arguing that she should not live in grace after everything she had done to us (beating, biting, kicking, stabbing and letting us be used as sex objects by male relatives). I stomped around the Old Mission grounds, punching the air in anger. I must have been an interesting sight to anyone walking by. I wonder what they might have thought I was — drunk or deranged.

The Voice would have its way, though. I finally realized that I have no right to judge Ma. (Oh, but how I wanted to!) Only God could do that, and if God said that she lived in grace, who was I to say anything to the contrary?

Assuming that the Voice I had heard was Who I thought it was, I figured I had better make a phone call. That was easier said than done. I spent a few days and tracked down my mother’s phone number, yet I could not bring myself to make the call. Every time I felt that Presence around me, pushing me just a bit, I would resist. Finally, I turned to God and said, “I cannot make this call. I have no idea what to say. What can I say after ten years?”

The Voice immediately responded. One word only: “Listen.”

Sure, of course, I could call, tell her who I was, and then just listen. And that is what I did. I called her. There was complete shock in her voice as she said, “Is this Beth? It sounds like Beth used to sound.” I confirmed her guess, and she took over, talking non-stop for an hour, occasionally asking a question, filling me in on her life, telling me about her concerns. Clearly, she had mellowed as she approached her 80th year.

The outcome of that conversation was that more of the 8-pack began speaking to her, and a year later seven of the eight of us returned to Maine to celebrate her 80th birthday, the first time we had all been together back in Maine in more than 30 years. Rollie, unfortunately, could not get off work, but he, too, had forgiven Ma for the horrific abuse of him and would have come had he been able to.

Another example of God turning bad into good -- and teaching the value of waiting and forgiving. And of the Voice tasking me in ways that have led to spiritual growth.


  1. I know what you mean about "the Voice". I'm really moved and helped by your posts. Last night I wanted to take someone's inventory (but I'm right!) re: abuse but my wife reminded me to leave judgement out of it. It's necessary to record and remember the incidents but not to judge the person (so hard!). In my experience, this is where grace comes in, if I'm fortunate, or God wills.

  2. A beautiful story of grace and love. It must have been difficult for you to forgive this horrific abuse... but you did. You could have refused but you chose to listen instead and you are doubly blessed for it. May you continue to respond to His voice so faithfully.

  3. Marc, I am so happy that these posts are helpful and that you understand. I was quite nervous about starting this blog, concerned that people would think I was crazy, but I felt compelled to do it. It has been a positive thing in two directions -- those who find it helpful and those who have, through their interactions, helped me understand that while I don't hear a lot of people around me talking about such things, there are many who share these experiences (and perhaps some around me have them but don't say anything for the same reason I have not said anything to them).

  4. Mary, thank you. Somehow I never feel like there is really an option except to obey, but I suppose there is.