Chapter 40: Who You Say I Am


The House With The Room With a Padlock…

Yep.  I was the kid who probably should have failed pre-school.  A December birthday meant starting school when I was only 4 years old.  I remember being excited about going to school because it meant getting out of the house; a place that was often dark and my sister and I spent most of our time padlocked inside our bedroom.  I can still hear the keys unlocking the door–and wondering if we were going to be allowed out or if they had to use the restroom on the other side of our room.  Our apartment, was in downtown Jacksonville, Florida and was in one of the century old (even then) plantation style houses that had been divided into apartments.  Ours was one of the best, as we didn’t have to share a bathroom with another tenant.

Yep.  I was the kid who could not use scissors properly (still can’t) and often colored outside the lines (still do)–and there was talk of making me repeat the very first year of school.  To me, that was failure; and even at 4 years old, that was not an option; so I was going to color inside the lines no matter what and I found that using my left hand was helpful with the scissors–even though I was being forced to write with my right hand.

So the day I got it right, I made something for her; I refer to Anne Jones as “her” because she birthed me; there is no denying that–but there wasn’t a part of her that was a mother at all.  On that day in the spring, just before they were going to hold me back, I managed to color a picture inside the lines, use scissors to cut it out and glue it on construction paper.  I still remember the picture, and I still remember what I wrote–with my LEFT hand.  “Look Mom, I did it!”.  So, I ran home to the apartment and she was watching her “stories” as she called them–and took the paper from me and said, “that looks great, now take it to your room and go outside or I will be there to lock the padlock, did you eat at school?”

That was the day that academics would be the thing that would define who I was.  I was 5 years old by that day, but I sure knew that nothing else was going to get fostered in my life, and so I learned to do my very best in school often getting upset to the point of tears when I got a 99% on a test.  While that story may sound horrible to you (and it is) good grades was the only way to get her attention.  So I received good grades, and was always on the honor roll, except for the “C” in handwriting, which I never conquered.  If you described my handwriting today as illegible, you would be giving me a compliment.

Time passed and things happened, lots of bad things that either you have read or you will read.  But school was always my thing; it was the only thing; it was who I was.  I didn’t know who I was outside of the world of academia until decades later.  Most people, to this day, would tell you that I am well-educated and not a dumb person; but that would not be the first words out of their mouth.  Nor would it be the first words out of mine.

Martha Williamson, the genius pen behind “Touched By An Angel” and more recently the Hallmark Channel’s “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”,  finds a way to weave the gospel into everything she writes.  One of her SSD movies “Truth Be Told” struck a chord with me.  The main character, played by Eric Mabius, finds out he really isn’t who he thought he was, his father isn’t who he thought and he was devastated.  As I watched his brilliant acting onscreen tears began to flow down my cheek; as it hit me; at some point I finally realized who I was, and it had nothing to do with school, impressing my mom or anything that another human being could change or take away.  As I watched the character realize the same I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in that room again crying into my pillow with my picture crumbled in my hand.  Instantly, one of my favorite songs hit me:

“You call me righteous, You call me Yours, no longer guilty, not anymore, I am rewritten, I am spoken for, a new creation I  stand before You now because of who You say I am” Among The Thirsty

I related to Oliver’s character; angry at his father but still wanting his love.  His anger was rooted in a false pretense that his father kept him from his mother.  But, in reality she abandoned him.  I certainly understood that pain. Even though Oliver’s emotions were played out in brilliant speechless acting; I know that feeling; and even the best of writers fail to explain it.

So, it is important to understand when you read my story or when you think of that of the Oliver’s character, that parents are your parents no matter what.  We want their approval; we need them to love us; and they certainly should protect us.  I got none of that.  But, like Oliver’s character, I realized somewhere a long the way I realized that I have a Father that will never leave and Who will always protect, Who will do no harm; and is the only Certainty in this crazy thing we call life.

The movie reminded me more than ever these truths are what got me through the days you have read about and the days I still need to tell you about; because it certainly went downhill from being locked in a room.

***Start from the beginning and read my story as I remember it I am writing it…here is the link to the main page:


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