Back to the question of why is being a lightning rod a bad thing? It's not. I'm here to tell you, it's not. If you want to run around chasing electrical storms on purpose, trying to get struck by lightning, that's a different thing and it doesn't help anyone, especially yourself. What I'm talking about is the willingness to stand up tall, take a hit that could otherwise cause decimation, and channel it to where it can't do any harm. The problem is you have to be brave, willing to stand out there by yourself, and not be afraid of getting a jolt. It also helps if you're tall, which I am.
I have never chased storms, intentionally seeking to be a lightning rod, but there have been times when someone had to do it---had to climb on the building and take the strike. I've tried to stand up for people throughout my life. Friends at school, people I worked with and for, people I went to church with, and my own family. I've tried to look out for the little guy, the misunderstood and the forgotten. Sometimes it has been me. Sometimes I have had to look out for the health and well-being of myself so that I could continue to care for my husband and children and do my own work in this world.
The hardest has been when I've been the lightning rod in my own family---standing up to my parents. It's not easy to say to your parents that you will no longer tolerate their abuse, narcissism, and their hatred. It takes a lot of guts to stay home on Thanksgiving and make your own dinner in order to have peace in your life and spend quality, loving, respectful, wholesome time with your husband and children. It requires grit and heart to put your hand out and say, "no more!" It takes dedication and fierce maternal love to not allow the caustic tradition of abuse to sink its teeth into your own posterity. I've done that and I'm glad I did. I would willingly do it again. Someone had to stand on top of the Empire State Building of my life and say, "you shall not pass!"
Tomorrow on Thanksgiving, it's my birthday. Sometimes it's on Thanksgiving, which I kind of enjoy. It's nice to be in the kitchen and enjoy the company of people I dearly love. And for the pie. Pie is better than cake, always. I'm told that after I was born, I came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day to a dinner prepared by my grandmother and all my mother's family. I am happy to say that this year, like has been the tradition now for many years, we will eat in our home, surrounded by people we love and we'll be missing and loving the children who live far away, talking to them over Skype, I'm sure. Long ago the traditions of my parents' family have been dimmed and changed. What a blessing!
Here's the thing about lightning. If it hits you, you're either going to die or you're going to be badly hurt. If it hits your building or home, it's going to cause damage or set the thing on fire. It's going to split trees or kill cattle. It does damage. It's nothing to mess with. I have chosen to watch the sky for brewing clouds, listen for the claps of thunder to warn me when danger is near, and when the darkness gathers, to boldly stand on top of my life and say, "not here, not in this family, not in this home." I guess that a lot of people would prefer to keep company with people and in structures where there is no lightning rod, mostly because they don't recognize the danger or pay attention to the sky, but I look for lightning rods because I know they'll keep me safe.
There are even people who blame the lightning rod for the lightning striking. That's not how it works. When a cloud is full of electricity, it has to be discharged somehow and it will strike somewhere. Why not control how the power is channeled and reduce risk of damage and death? When I stood up to my parents, I told them that the things they did to me were not going to happen to my children. I stood in front of my children and protected them. I stood in front of my gay friends in high school and tried to protect them. I've stood in front of refugees and spoke up for them. I've told women in church circles that their gossip needed to stop. I've tried to protect the people I care about, including me.
|From a scene in the movie "Sweet Home, Alabama."|
This Thanksgiving and birthday, I'm publicly grateful for my lightning-rod self. I'm even more grateful for the guts, grit, and resilience that God blessed me with, which my husband helped me cultivate, and that my children now possess in themselves. I'm honored to have been given the chance to stand up with a rod of iron in my hand and let the pain and drama, abuse and neglect, flow through me to the ground where it belongs---in hell with satan himself. It has not passed into our home, into my marriage, or into my children. I am grateful for the details I pick up on and the intuition I have about others who might also be hurting or suffering the way I did. I can help them. I'm grateful that my Creator has trusted me enough to hold that rod of iron. I'm just trying to protect people and myself. It's not a bad thing.