Monday, January 04, 2010

The Suitcase



I took this picture because I had an essay all thought out about what it feels like to be a child of divorce. How you get handed this suitcase that holds all the family issues and you've got to carry it down the road with you as you go along, because it holds all that's left of your family and even though it hurts your arm and it's in the way, it's not like you can leave it behind in a field. And how if you're lucky you learn to take out the heaviest junk so it's easier to carry.

Then I decided not to post that essay.

But I like the picture.

Aren't we all using one hand to hold on to the ones we love, and the other to carry the suitcase as best we can?

65 comments:

Tammy (Mom to this crazy bunch) said...

- thought provoking. Also, a beautiful photo.

Polly said...

That's a wonderfully-styled photo, and a wonderfully-worded post with a great metaphor.

I've been carrying the same heavy suitcase since I was 6 years old. I was well into my 20s before I truly realized what a burden it had been for most of my life--almost like I'd forgotten that it was there, yet it was always, always there, and I'd just gotten used to it. In my case, I think my husband hoisted it up and tossed out some of the stuff.

Anonymous said...

Do wish you'd write more. Would love to read the essay.

Anonymous said...

It's not only children of divorce who carry heavy suitcases. I think we do have to 'learn' to toss aside the heaviest junk. It is not something that just happens. I too would love to read the essay you had constructed.

Sonya

Dawn said...

Anna, I know this photo goes along with a difficult issue but I must say that this is my favorite photo that's ever appeared on your blog. It has a wonderful retro look, as though the two of you have just gotten off a dusty bus to visit relatives. I love the way the dress and red suitcase work together so well. I hope you are your family are having a wonderful new year!

MommaMindy said...

I agree with the anonymous poster, maybe the Lord would have you to write the rest of the story some day.My husband's mother divorced 3 or 4 times before the final one was a keeper. The Lord has done a wonderous work in my husband's life, but he is the only sibling of five that allowed the Lord to heal him. Their bitterness affected each of their marriages and their parenting. Pray about your story, sister, maybe the Lord will lead you to bless others with it some day.

Rose said...

The photo speaks volumes. So does what you have written here.

Lucille said...

This is a very arresting image and I heard a different voice in your writing. I'll be thinking about this post for a good while.

Anonymous said...

OK, anna - this is a terrible teaser...you've touched a chord, and we want more! But, if the Lord is not directing you to post your essay (yet!), than we will let it go.

I, too, carry a suitcase, though I am not from a divorced home. Sometimes the suitcase is sooo big, and soooo full of junk, you have to throw it all away, or lose hold of the treasure you have in your other hand. That is my story, in a nutshell. Thank you for the photo. It brings beauty to a very painful subject - like poetry...

Kristi McInerney said...

Oh, Anna, what a great photo!!! Simply beautiful...you are gorgeous :)

God hates divorce because of that very thing...the way it poisons everyone involved, especially the children. My mother and 6 siblings were left by their father b/c ,my grandpa was having an affair with a family friend. When he called to tell my grandmother my mom said she heard this piercing scream. HOw does one do that to a wife and 7 children???

Divorce is so sad and so hurtful...it is why John and I vow to not even say the word let alone allow it as an answer...we trust that even if the "falling in love" feeling goes away we still have a choice to love.

I pray for all of those who are victims of divorce. Thanks for sharing.

Della said...

Marriage is never easy and should never be entered into with the idea that it is anything but hard work and sacrifice...but it is the most rewarding experience, even in the hard times. I don't know about anyone else's vows, but I don't remember the preacher saying "For better and when it gets worse, get out". Nope, "for better of for worse" that right there ought to be a clue that it's not all roses, but I like what Kristi said about chosing to love, in spite of the difficulties. Love the words and I love the picture and I want your suitcase LOL without anything in it, of course.

Laura said...

Living through a divorce in my family at present.
Heartwrenching nightmare
that doesn't go away
even through the sweetest life moments~
there it hangs like a decaying, smelly, reminder of one person's heart that went wayward
away from Godward
away from forgiveness
away from mercies new
away from victorious overcoming in one of life's greatest areas of sanctification & wholeness
She chooses it not.
And let's consider the havoc in the lives of 4 boys and all the extended family & friends
seeking Godward...
only to see that she
is not.

Bring the essay on, Anna.
In His time.

{{* *}}

Teri in Oklahoma said...

As I read your post and the comments (with tears) I kept thinking how my 3 adult girls have each had to carry a suitcase as a result of my divorcing their father many, many years ago. And as a result of that action, I too have had to carry a very heavy suitcase. Coming to the Saviour has helped get rid of some of the "junk", but we all are still working on it! God bless you for bringing this issue to the forefront. I love your style.......thank you.

Kimmie said...

Suitcases always remind me of children in foster care. Many times when things go ugly at home, they leave without even a suitcase. Many times they go from place with their belongings in a trash bag. Oh, how wrong that is.

love your picture and your heart.

Kimmie

Maria said...

You touched my heart this morning (with tears also). Divorce was never something I wanted and I especially NEVER wanted it for my children for the very reason of the suitcase.....I pray for my children every day and even after seven years, they still carry the suitcase, but it has gotten a lot lighter. I don't know if it will ever be empty or not, though.

When you are ready, we are ready for the essay.

Beth said...

First point: I love the picture (such great composition with you and the sudden bright colors!), and I love those boots. I think I need boots like that in my life. Maybe some will come find me...

Quasi-trivial pursuits aside, I think all of us collect particular memories and can be influenced by them as long as we let it happen. It's so comfortable to dwell in the familiar, whether good or bad. That's one sort of housekeeping I'm not sure I do often enough!

My own childhood suitcase is, ironically, filled with the clutter from a marriage that lasted too long. Perhaps God does hate divorce, but nevertheless I firmly believe that no one should remain married to an abuser, whatever form that abuse takes (physical, emotional) and whatever its cause (mental disorders, addiction). It's easy to say that you should be able to tell before you marry, but please trust me that you can't always. I don't believe that I'm alone when I say that no small part of my hurt over my past comes from the denial of outsiders, the belief that she couldn't possibly be like that, because she was "such a nice person!" And she was... if you weren't her child.

Not all marriages are good things; not all divorces are good things either. But whichever side we're on, we still move forward with our suitcases and do the best we can, just like everyone else. If I've learned nothing else in life, it's that we all have something to carry! Sometimes I think there should be billboards or something reminding people of that. Maybe we'd be kinder to each other. :o)

ktquilts said...

Amen. It reminds me that we never know what people are dealing with, so we need to give them grace. Everyone is usually doing the best that they can. We all need the Lord to heal our brokeness.

Blessings,
KT

mkcmom said...

Sometimes it feels like I'm lugging a 50 pound trunk! Then, I know it's time to let God take over, the way He intended it to be in the first place.

Meghan said...

Beautiful photo and beautiful sentiments. Thank you for sharing.

Chad and Sandy said...

Just wonderful......

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anna, very thought provoking. Ladies you too... The comment were moving as well. Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

What lovely words and what courage it takes to write them here, exposing one's heart. I am not a child of divorce, but I am a child of many hurts brought on by my parents. I am middle aged, and for my entire life my parents have been inscrutable. I tried for years to please, but it doesn't change anything. My father's dying words to me were ones of anger and rage, a burden I find difficult to hoist from my life. (I often think how Jesus "loved them to the end," the example we should look to.) I found the best way for me to move forward was to love my own husband, four children and grandchildren, passing on anew what my parents seemed incapable of giving me.

Anna, I hope your share your story.

Jodi said...

I am my Mom's oldest,she was married three times.I had a very heavy suitcase.then I met the One who offered to carry my burdens.It took me a while to let go completely,but by His grace I am free.

cake said...

Well said, well said. Most of have baggage of one sort or another. My childhood was 'near perfect' but alas divorce visited me & my children. My daily prayer is that God will 'lighten our luggage' & my sweet granddaughters will not be weighed with a heavy load...........

AmysZoo said...

Interesting that you should bring up this topic (illustrated with the perfect photo)...I am a child of divorce many times over and I was just speaking with my husband about ways I think my experience of being a child of divorce affects me still today as a 36 year old married woman and mother. There was a time in my life when I wanted to exchange my suitcase for a different, seemingly easier one to carry. Yet, over the years of walking with Jesus on this road of life, I have come to accept my own suitcase and I seek to carry it with grace, by His grace, daily. We do all have our burdens. Gratefully, we also have a Burden Carrier and we also have one another to help lighten the load. God bless you and thank you for the way you regularly minister to us who read your blog, with your witty writing, the beauty of your life, and your love for God and your family.

jAne said...

So many share this burden, including me. After years of abuse, my mother divorced my father then went on to marry 4 more times.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing from your heart. I agree with the others, perhaps in the Lord's time you'll share further. I believe it would be true edification.

Bless you,
jAne * tickleberryfarm.blogspot.com

Vicki said...

I too have been often encouraged by the beauty in your blog. Thank you for sharing and inspiring. As a mom of 5 little ones I am often wearied and am so thankful that God blesses our hearts and encourages us in so many ways.
This post was moving and I was just reminded that Jesus said "Come to me all you who are wearied and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
I'm glad he knew we'd be weary and carrying burdens and he told us what to do when we are. Such a gift.
Lovely picture!

Mac an Rothaich said...

Wow, yah, hard stuff, walking with a friend and her four kids after their Dad left and I wish I could lighten the kids loads so often and feel like only their Dad can do that and he isn't interested... Thank God for GOD our Abba Father!

Margo said...

Thank you for this post. Even if you never share your essay publicly, I'm sure it was a good thing for you to write/reflect. I find new thoughts when I write. . .

I think also of what Vivi said in Divine Sacrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: (paraphrasing) that we all have huge wounds but they don't always show - so we must be gentle to people because they are hurting.

The red suitcase against the turquoise coat is exquisite. That's my favorite color combination ever and I love it with the rest of the sober colors in the photo. . .

Sarri said...

Long time reader, first time commenter . . .

Thank you. I am glad I'm not the only one that feels this way.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Anna.
My mother was a child of divorce. She and my father made a wonderful home for my siblings and I. Thankfully, I had not a clue what she went through as a child until I was an adult and I began to understand what it meant for her. I have watched several divorces in my husband's family and it is like going through a death.

Amy F.

Anonymous said...

Our daughter and her husband divorced this past summer — not even a year yet. I'm very worried about her middle child, whom I think is not going to manage this well at all. I cannot imagine how awful it must be for this 6-year old. He is clearly grieving. All I know to do is love him and pray...

Amanda said...

That's very touching and prayer invoking. God blessed me with a wonderful mother & father, but my mother was a child of divorce. And I have other family and friends who know it too well. As a daycare director I have seen how destructive it can be to the children. The picture is beautiful, but the story behind it brings all the more insight.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I am the Mama of 5 little ones you may remember emailing/commenting. I confess that I harbor sadness of no memories of my Mom reading or cooking or talking with me...now our family's life is very similar to yours. Perhaps you often recognize that your past contributes to the family-loving person you are now? Sorry if this doesn't make sense. I need to review Ann's Voskamp's writings at "Holy Experience"..somewhere she writes piercingly about forgiveness and redemption in her family. Way too long, but I have often wondered how your girlhood affects the commited mother you are now.
Anon mama of 5 littles

Anonymous said...

I was never told I was a child or "product" of a broken home and was never told I was any less a "whole" being because of my parents divorce situation. In fact my parents were divorced a month after I was born, they stayed together to give me a name .(yeah so I would not be illegitimate)whatever that means, since it was GOD who formed me in the womb etc !!!.. The sad fact is that society and people who mean well are the ones who start saying things like oH what a tragedy , OH what sorrow , How awful that your parents divorced !! etc. When I lived in the protection of my loving kind NON JUGMENTAL family I knew not of any thing wrong with my life untill I came across people who are always pointing out and condeming situations like mine , instead of overlooking the circumstance and giving people real true support . Jesus really came to do this on earth..Jhn 12:46 I have come [as] a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
Jhn 12:47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, [fn] I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. .Stop pointing out the wrong in people and start blessing them instead is what I look for !!!!!

terry said...

Your photo and post has moved me to tears.

Anonymous said...

First... where's HIS suitcase? Seems like most people I know are divorced these days.
Second... if it were a modern-day representation of divorce, the suitcase would have a handy dandy handle and wheels. Isn't that the way things are now ~ people divorce for convenience anymore ~ like it's easier to just pull the streamlined baggage along because, well, everyone else is, and you can get one quite cheaply.
And finally... how destructive divorce is. We're the only couple in both our families NOT divorced. We're going on 19 years, thanks to the Lord who brought us through the tough times scorched, but still holding hands and walking together.

Karla said...

Wow~it is obvious you have touched on a topic that reaches so many. I am not from a broken home, but have seen many I love hurt so deeply by the effects of it.

If you could possibly reconsider publishing your essay, it has the potential to minister to a great many....

I continue to appreciate your blog!

Liz Brebner said...

Loved the photo and the metaphor about a difficult topic. I liked that you were going to portray the topic of divorce using adults.

April said...

It is a beautiful photo. And an apt metaphor, though I think it could apply to most any hardship in life.


If this were a photo of us, the very not-svelte view of the backsides of my husband and I would have to show us both carrying the suitcase together. Because when one is loved so fully and beautifully, the one who loves always seems to end up carrying the baggage at least a little way for the other...

Blessings to you on your journey, Anna.

Amy B. said...

Aptly spoken. It's a new year and time to lighten our burdens. (Also, the essay may be good sometime too, in the last 6 mths or so of 2009 I knew personally, 8 or 9 couples at some stage of divorce; it has been heart-breaking to say the least.) Happy New Year.

chicklegirl said...

I mostly "lurk", enjoying the homeschool insights, lovely photos, vintage flair and sewing projects (I went out and bought the adorable pattern you used for Daisy's flannel dresses with an Easter frock in mind for my 2 y.o. DD--couldn't pass it up when JoAnn had their McCalls patterns on sale for 99¢ last weekend)...

But this post spoke to me--made me pause and look down at the duct-taped handle of my own suitcase and marvel in gratitude that it has, through grace, grown lighter over the years. Thank you for sharing, for putting into that one picture all the thousand words I've carried engraved on my heart since I was sixteen.

God is good, Anna, and thank God for you for reminding me.

Andrea said...

wow.

just wow.

Saminda said...

Bless you sweet lady. :)

Lisateresa said...

So much has already been said here - I'm sure there's nothing I can really add to it.
But it occurred to me that your remark about holding on to your loved ones might not mean what I at first thought - did you mean holding onto them in order to keep things together as much as you can? Or holding onto them for your own sense of stability; for your own "groundedness"?
My own parents didn't divorce, but it wasn't a good marriage, unfortunately, and I have plenty of baggage. I don't tend to ponder the situation the way you seem to do. I tend to go along, do my chores, do my sewing, praying, etc., and be occupied. I'm not deliberately trying to avoid anything, but you've made me think now that I may be missing something important. Hmmm

Polly said...

I was thinking on this some more this morning in the car, and considered another layer of the metaphor. Of course the post is applicable to everyone via the last sentence. But I thought of the fact that we are *all* Children of Divorce, in the way sin can (and did) divorce us from God. We all lug around that suitcase. We are all looking for someone to help us unload the junk and/or carry the suitcase with us.

Anonymous said...

Though i think you may have meant well to say that the result of a divorce leaves pain behind,and that is true , I have to add to this that any time we point out people's inability to be perfect , in any way or form, we are in fact judging them, no matter how nice we are , wether we like it or not.

When I became a "born again" Christian all I heard was how my sins were forgiven never to be seen again..Perhaps "heard" was another thing. I began to hear soon after my salvation how bad it was to have an abortion. I had previously had 2 of them before I was suppossedly FORGIVEN, but I continued to hear this terrible finger pointing for years until one day I realized the church had not forgiven me and never will, only Jesus had ,so that was no place for me. The issue was slammed on my face creating guilt over and over again. This is why I left the Christian Church. I cannot stop being a new creation in Christ Jesus but I can stop hearing people judging everything I did wrong over and over again If I just stay away from church, and live with God alone who did indeed forgive me and washed me clean..Its very interesting , I had a dream where Jesus and I went to church hand in hand and when we entered through the doors, the "Christians" hurried to try to save Him and give Him a tract for His salvation ! When I woke up I heard Him say THEY don't know Me!!!

Lisateresa said...

Polly, that is a very interesting point you made. However, I have no wish to "gloss over" in any way the suffering of those who live through divorces.

Anna said...

Here is a factual statement: "My parents divorced and that divorce caused me pain." That is not a judgement of them or anyone else who divorced.

However, I think we are perfectly free as Christians to identify ungodly behavior as such. It has nothing to do with forgiveness, either.

Tracy said...

It is unfortunate that us children of divorce cannot ever say that we had pain for fear of offending the parents who feel they did the very best they could (and in many cases did). But I guess that is part of what is in that suitcase.

Thanks, Anna. This was a very emotional post for me. I had no idea what feelings I still had about my parents' divorce even after 30 years.

Anonymous said...

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus

Aaronsrod

connie said...

the picture + the words = something to surely think about.

both my parents and my husband's parents divorced when we were little. neither of us truly understood the depth of it all until we became parents ourselves. and now it was not only affecting us, but the next generation - our children. i will never forget the day i realized my children would never be able to go to "gramdma and grandpa's house". that place just doesn't exist for them.

i recently tried to explain divorce to a friend of mine: my mom loves me 100% and my dad loves me 100%, and 200% is great. but when two parents stay together, their love isn't just added together; it grows exponentially. there is just that "something extra" they share, that history, the things they feel and know about their children that nobody else does.

i have always enjoyed coming to your blog for our common interests, but now i feel an even stronger bond. thank you for sharing, anna.

Elisabeth Black said...

You know what a picture is worth.

Carrie said...

Anna,
Thank you for your post. No matter how old I get, the suitcase is still by my side...since I was five. It shouldn't still hurt, right? It's so "normal" these days. It's the unexpected things that surprise me......dealing with a family fractured all over the country, and wondering how to visit them all and have any kind of relationship between them and my children. And now, looks like we'll go through it again as my father and stepmother are divorcing after 25 years and 2 more kids. I agree with Polly and thank the Lord for a husband who has committed to not adding another suitcase for our four children to lug through life, and who has helped me chuck some of that junk in the suitcase.
Thank you once again for sharing your life with us.
You may never know who the Lord will touch through your words.

Becca said...

How I long to hold my loved ones with both hands and leave that suitcase behind! After 20 years, my parent's divorce only deepens with pain because our children dont' have the wholesome extended family that we would wish for them and my parent's bitterness and grief is taken out on my children in strange ways. Lord, please knit our lives with joy!

Denise said...

Go ahead! Would love to read. . .

Kim said...

So grateful to have found your blog via a link from aholyexperince.
Fabulous photo. Touching post that penetrates my heart as I carry the same suitcase.

AndiMae said...

Thank you so much for this. I cannot tell you how much I needed this.

P.S. I adore your blog!

Jenn@Spejory said...

Love the photo and would love to read the essay. This is a silent problem for many women (and men. I almost never read about this, but, as a child of divorce myself, I would love to read about it. My theory is that it's taboo because of the risk of hurting those who are struggling to raise children after their own divorce. I have friends who are divorced, through no fault of their own, and I feel I need to be sensitive to their feelings. I think this would make a great book or article, but might alienate some of your blog readers. There is a pretty big suitcase being carried by women whose husbands have divorced them, even though the women did not want it.

Chris said...

I know the suitcase you speak of, and sometimes we need an inanimate object to encapsulate the confusion kept within.

I was moved by your post. I know exactly what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

I, like Becca, don't see it as an issue of forgiving something in the past.

The issue is that, forever, the eroding keeps going on. As the years pass, my parents get more and more bitter. Marrying other people has only complicated things. They don't want to share in our joy of bringing up a new family, because it is a painful reminder to them that life didn't turn out like they wanted it to.

They end up just keeping to themselves and refusing to participate, even though we do everything we can to entice them to be around.

There's just no family there for us as we go through our childbearing years, and I don't see it getting any better, it only gets worse.

My only hope is to cling to Jesus, who "makes the bitter water sweet" (from the story of the Israelite children in the wilderness). He is the only thing that can allow sweetness to come out of my marriage and children. Otherwise we would be swept away in the flood of bitterness from - not the past - but from the *current* divorce situation.

Martha A. said...

I think we all have our suitcases!!! But you know, when I looked at this picture, I saw you heading out on a new journey to make new memories and while it does not erase those past painful ones, it sure can help. I have some painful things in a suitcase I will always carry around, not related to divorce, but you know the suitcase gets lighter as I take them out and give them to God.

AllyJo said...

Wow. That was powerful.

Anonymous said...

As I watch my dear niece and nephews carry their own heavy suitcases, one of the many things I mourn for them is the loss of home. They talk about being at "Mom's house" or "Dad's house," but they don't call any place "home." But one of the most precious memories I cherish of these dear children is watching my older nephews, who have more experience carrying their suitcases, comforting their younger cousin who is caught in the middle of a terrible custody situation. Their compassion, wisdom, and empathy humbled and amazed me. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Those precious boys could offer comfort and understanding to their cousin that I cannot, no matter how much I long to do so because they all carry that same suitcase.

Jessica E. said...

My friend stumbled about this string of conversation and found the dream by "anonymous" about Christians trying to get Jesus saved and Him telling her, "This is not me". That is so powerful. I would love to hear more about that dream, but I have no way to get in touch with her. Please contact us at www.pastorjohnshouse.com if anybody knows how to reach this person. And in the meantime, God bless you!

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