Editor's Note: This is a guest story by a good friend of our ministry. Susan Infosino gives us a glimpse of the flow of life, realism and befitting chapter endings that stir more than seasonal thanksgiving. Give it some time and read through. You'll be glad you did. If you'd like to submit a story for our review, please send it to awaken@Sonrisen.c
I want to share my story. Please be patient with me if it jumps all over the place. It is difficult to pinpoint a single moment where it begins. Rather then a bolt of lightning, it seems that Father God has showered me with raindrops of insight. Sometimes it was gentle and refreshing, while other times have been like a storm that soaks through one’s clothing completely.
For the longest time I felt as though all of the people around me who knew God were able to taste this wonderful chocolate cake,
and I couldn’t even smell it.
I believed somehow that it did exist, and sincerely wanted to experience it too. It just hadn’t happened for me.
As a child I attended a very traditional and over crowded parochial school. Being only 5 years old till mid-year and no prior school experience at all made first grade hellish. To this day I can still feel the pain in the pit of my stomach which seldom left me. I cried and was fearful much of the time. The teachers were not warm and loving. There was a cross on the wall and statues of saints everywhere but as far as I could tell, there was as much love in the atmosphere as there was water in the desert. On one of my very first days the teacher scolded me over a misunderstanding, and I ran. Yes indeed I ran. . . out the door, down the alley and around the corner to where I knew my Mother would come to get my brother and I at the end of the day. It still astounds me that no one even came to look for me!
There was lots of memorizing prayers and weekly visits from the pastor who would draw souls on the blackboard with lots of white chalk. To illustrate what our souls looked liked each time we committed a sin, he would use the eraser to remove the white and reveal a big, ugly, black space. I can’t remember a single message of God’s love for us. Not a one!
Sometime during second grade we were trained in going to confession. Uggghhh! What an experience. Here was this frightened little kid who was neurotically well behaved and found it nearly impossible to dredge up some sins to confess, Desperate times call for desperate measures so I invented a few sins. Still, there were no messages about God’s unconditional love and His desire for us to have a relationship with Him. No sweet childhood songs about God’s love and no bible verses.
Fortunately God has graciously showered me with another chance to learn. This is why I love working with the 3’s at South Ridge every Sunday morning. Now I learn my verses and sing and hear the sweetest most beautiful prayers. We are learning the building blocks of a relationship with Jesus together. He did say that for unto such as these is the kingdom of heaven, didn’t He?
Another blessing of love rained upon me through my grandparents. My paternal grandmother in particular was hugely influential even through my adulthood. She was not a very sophisticated or fancy person but I can not imagine who I would be without her. She loved me in a way that taught me huge biblical concepts. Later on in life her love served as an analogy for me to begin to understand what God’s love is like. My Mom-Mom loved me just because I existed and I was hers. I didn’t have to do anything, just be me! Simply entering the room and being in the same space with her I felt so loved. She loved us all that way. All she ever wanted from us was to be in a relationship with her and return some of the love she had constantly poured into us. It was a joy to do things that gave her pleasure and happiness. That is how I often feel about Father God.
As she advanced in years we even discussed death. I asked her if she was afraid and she said no. Mon-mom also told me that she was happy to have had the life she did and most of all she really missed my Grandfather and her parents. She demonstrated a genuine belief that she would be with God and them once again. I fear death much less because of her faith.
When the time came that I was to marry I thought I would just bite the bullet and utilize the church I had been raised in. Funny enough though, when I telephoned my heart pounded and no one ever answered the phone. So I asked myself what the heck was I doing. There had to be another way.
At that time I was employed at the preschool program of a large medical center. Periodically there were workshops made available to us and one came along that peaked my interest. It was titled Creative Survivors. Thinking of myself as a survivor of sorts I signed up. It was through that course that I met a wonderful Mennonite pastor and his wife. Their faith was evident, and I grew to become quite fond of them. In short I told them my story and they loved me and agreed to conduct our wedding in their church. Funny, little did I know when I visited the Amish/Mennonite areas in PA while growing up, that someday their Christian love would be extended to me. Out of that love my interest in seeking the Lord was renewed.
The early years of our marriage did not include attending church. About three years later our son was born and we were relocated to Buffalo N.Y. During house shopping we often saw Mennonite churches which peaked my curiosity. I have always viewed their presence in the area as a sign from God that He wanted us back. Ultimately we began to attend the one closest to our home. Despite still feeling so unable to smell or taste that chocolate cake I felt as though I was getting closer to the kitchen and oven. It was a small country church and we were made to feel very welcome. I can recall thinking that even though I didn’t grasp God yet, if our baby boy was going to it was definitely going to be helped along in a place filled with people like this. Once again a little more springtime drizzle.
As the years followed with several relocations, one of our customary methods of settling in to a new community was to go church shopping. We would visit various Christian denominations and choose together the one that seemed to feel right. In retrospect it was likely the Holy Spirit showering us with His guidance. With each Christian community came wonderful people who loved us and we loved them.
One of our most unexpected moves took us to Winter Springs, Florida. Going there took us away from family, friends and a wonderful church. But we trusted God and made our theme verse Jeremiah 29:11-14. Believe it or not we were there exactly 1 year to the very week. When we ask ourselves why did God send us to Florida, the answer that we most often think of is our church. In that quick year we heard great teaching, took several bible study classes and experienced the warmth of a lovely home group. Once again God provided his living water in that refreshing shower of opportunities. He continues to put amazing people and opportunities along our path. And slowly but surely I am experiencing the taste and smell of chocolate cake!
Chapter 2 : The soaking has become a hurricane.
This rainfall came not with thunder and lightening, but with hurricane strength wind that can knock over trees that have stood for what seems like as long as forever. Mom has left this world and gone on to the next. Somehow, I must have thought that if I kept telling her that even though I was 55 years old and yet still needed her, she wouldn’t go. God knew differently. He knew that she deserved to be somewhere better and that it was her turn to be there.
This is the storm that made me feel as helpless as a little child. My daughter and her companion were safely delivered to their destination, and I headed to face the oncoming storm. With a brave face and thought I might escape the wind which would turn out to be as cold as my Mother’s lifeless body. There was a strange quiet in the air. I held myself together in front of the police officers, the men from the funeral home and my loved ones. I would make sure they were ok, and didn’t get them or myself wet with tears.
Things need to be done. The contents of my childhood home on St. David’s Road are to be removed. The deed will go to the bank. The hurricane has picked up. There is so much debris in that house and part of me wants to blink my eyes and make it all disappear. Another never wants to see it all go. Maybe because of the realization that there are probably more yesterday then tomorrows and my generation is becoming the old people. Life is changing and I hardly recognize myself when I look in the mirror. The storm has done so much that my environment seems so very unfamiliar.
I miss my mother so much. I want to fuss over her and feel safe having her nearby. I want the conversations and stories only she was able to share. I want her silly moments with my children and the shoulder that supported me through the storms in my life.
But Father God has never forsaken me, and never will. The old family home has been emptied and God has answered my prayer that a breath of new life will yet be living there. I have met the sweet young Mexican family of 3 generations that breathe new life there now. How befitting to the grandchild of immigrants herself! God is so good!
My emotions and I have packed our bags and are returning back to the home God always saves for me. The name of that place, is Love and a Thankfulness.