When you work somewhere for almost 19 years, you collect a lot of branded items. Our organization was big on branding. Shirts, sweatshirts, coolers, hats, blankets even. Our home is filled with shirts, logo upper left, right over the heart. Tee shirts with logo and names of places we have been fill our closets. Even a license plate adorned my car, “I love my job” or some such thing. It is gone now, My Chef removed that day one. I emptied my closet day two, his day three. I stashed it all in the spare room, still unable to completely part with it, unable to accept the “marriage” had dissolved. I keep finding more items, plaques of awards won, pens, posters, pictures. 19 years is so long, too long to be branded, items have appeared in our home and we didn’t even see them anymore.
The initial shock, the pain and fear, have lessened with each new day as activity and planning take over. Grieving is real, mornings are hard. Still finding the something, someone beneath the trademark is becoming the joy in each day. Discovering, like my Plum with a new rock held gently in his palm lifted for all to see and admire, the new us, the real us. I can’t help but think of other branded people: gang members, Holocaust survivors, slaves, prisoners. Theirs were not so easily shed, the horror of their brand denoting an experience we cannot claim. Yet our branding kept us from a full faith life, required an allegiance to a different god. Money, power, prestige were rewards, for sure, yet the struggle was ongoing, how to fit our God into the values of the organization. My Chef lived it out as best he could, he gave and gave, he counseled, he supported. As time progressed, as his faith deepened, the gulf widened though between his work n the smaller group and his faith. Lack of integrity ate at him, partnership suffered. The branding began to feel weighty, too heavy, an unconscious tug that his beliefs were not in line with the shirt he put on each day.
A full week has passed since the brand has been lifted. Our future is uncertain but there is so much more room for God now. Trusting the One who was branded, broken, mocked, pierced for His faith, the One who hung on the cross still believing in His Father, naked but for a loin cloth, judged by those who didn’t understand. We are leaning on this truth: our real brand was established long ago, our true allegiance already established. The sun is going to rise, so will we. There will be darkness as well, this I know. Still, nothing is covering my heart, blocking the path to my God. His claim to us is pure, we are His, first last, always. This is a brand I will always wear.