Mercy

Posted: February 15, 2013 in Uncategorized
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“what goes around comes around”

“he brought this on himself”

etc.

The other day I was having a conversation with God, and I caught myself–or rather He pointed out– MULTIPLE times, defining God with human parametres.  It started out simply enough.  I was praying for someone whose illness could be considered a result of their own choices.  I was praying from a place of sincerity and earnest desire, and suddenly I started interrupting myself and cutting God off.  

Have you ever done that?  When you’re making a request of someone that you know might be a “stretch” you just start qualifying and pre-emptively defending what would give you the audacity to ask in the first place, lest they reject your request and or exclaim about your gall?

So I basically started doing that.  “I know they maybe brought this on themselves etc etc… but”

And right there, in that statement God showed me the limited view of Him I was demonstrating.

first of all, who suggested that this request was a ‘stretch’ !?  that I should need to cut Him off and start defending my request!?  

To Whom am I praying, after all!?  that this request might be too big for Him!?  seriously?  

by the way, God was a lot more gentle–I’m just a little appalled at myself!

second, the mindset I was in, I was suggesting not that some kind of justice needed to play out, but that God, perhaps, wasn’t interested on ‘wasting’ a miracle on someone who may have ‘earned’ their illness.

Where did the notion come from that God’s miracles come in limited supply?!?  That He’s not going to dole out healing or the miraculous lest it be ‘wasted’!?   Mercy is infinite!  He WANTS us to swim in His mercy!  that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more going on behind the scenes that may necessitate different responses than swift and miraculous mercy, but the idea that God has some kind of ‘miracle quota’ is a little bit preposterous.  or a lot of bit.

But finally–and this is the one that I’ve really been meditating on…  was simply this.  What human EVER has the right to suggest that suffering, disease, death, pain, sorrow, loss, agony, of any kind is deserved by another for having ‘brought it on themselves’!?  
What human is exempt from complicity in the broken condition under which we all suffer!?

in other words…

Who *HASN’T* ‘brought it on themselves’ !?

All these little things we say about people bringing it on themselves and ‘kharma’s a b*tch’ and ‘what goes around comes around’ etc etc are all excused we find to guard our hearts from feeling, [gasp] empathy!  

Yes, it’s true that there is cause and effect.  and all of our actions–whether we recognize it or not–have effects.  And the fact that 100% of humanity is complicit in the suffering and death and agony of the broken condition is by no means an excuse to then live frivolously and “sin more that grace may increase” *, but instead, is a recognition that should spur us into compassion.

The reality that ‘this person’s actions’ are more obvious to us as having a cause and effect relationship with his or her suffering does not negate the reality that without God’s grace, the suffering we see in “this person” and much more would be ours as well.
Image
^pictured above-an artists rendering of Job 42:1-6^

you see…
the idea that anyone deserves ‘their suffering’ and ‘we’ don’t—because we haven’t taken the same actions as they have or whatnot… it complete rubbish.  There’s no place for justifying passivity and inaction with self-righteousness.  

Without the provisional grace of God Every. Single. Moment….  our lives–by our own making, would be nothing but chaos and ruin, isolation, loneliness, disease, famine, death, and destruction.  It is what we all “deserve”.

So since we’re all–every one of us–swimming in mercy, I am invited to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” ** and plead for His mercy on every one of His creation.  I am called to have compassion recognizing that we are all alike in our broken need of Him. 

And I am called to gratitude for every breath that I take—and the recognition that “every good and perfect gift” is from Him. ***

*Romans 6:1
**Hebrews 4:16
***James 1:17

I’ve already given up my life… So for lent this year, one of the things I’ve chosen to do is to re-engage with this blog.  I’m hoping that this will translate into a better long term habit!

I have an amazing daughter, who is straddling the line between toddler and preschooler.  She has the intelligence of a preschooler, and waffles between toddler and preschooler when it comes to her emotional comprehension.  When it comes to compassion and empathy, she’s a preschooler.  When it comes to not getting her own way, there’s still a lot of toddler there…  the understanding and reasoning that preschoolers grasp are just a little bit beyond her as her world caves in and she grows increasingly convinced that Mama doesn’t love her.

She teaches me about my relationship with God every day.

When I regress to “toddler” state… it’s nearly always because I don’t get my way.
I don’t think I need to add much to that.  That’s a pretty hefty conviction on its own.

I want to parent her the way God parents me.  Sometimes He has a course set out for me, and He’s excited for me to step into this thing that He knows I will love and to see my delight in it, but I’ve got my mind made up that I HAVE to go “this way”.

When this happens with my daughter, I have a lot of choices.  I may have this great plan for her that involves her favorite things, but she’s intent on doing THIS thing.  Now, provided that “this thing” isn’t dangerous to her, I have the choice to allow her to engage in “this thing”, or to argue with her about why the other thing is better, or pick her up and force her into the “fun” thing, knowing that once she’s there, she’ll be happy with it.

I’ve done all of the above.  I took her to playland before her 3rd birthday this year, and she was so excited to try a ride!  But when she found out Mama wasn’t allowed on the ride she had chosen, she didn’t want to try the ride after all.  After going on the 2 rides we could do together waaaay too many times, I decided she was going to try a ride all by herself.  She was clearly adventurous with the other rides, and I knew she could handle it.  So I explained to her that I was going to put her on the ride, and (with the blessing of the ride operator) assured her that if she still wanted to come off after the ride had started, we would stop it immediately and take her off.

I must have looked like the most twisted cruel parent in the world as I forcibly strapped my daughter into the motorcycle seat that she had soooo wanted to ride at the beginning of the day.  The ride operator looked at me as if she was unsure whether she should call child protective services or flip the ride switch.  My daughter screamed like the world was ending for the 12 seconds it took for me to clear the area so the operator could start the ride.  She flipped the switch, and mid-scream, without stopping to breathe, my child’s wail turned into giggling.  She loved it!  She had so much fun that she went on the ride 5 times in a row!  It became her favorite ride!

I’m not sure if that was the best way to do things.  I didn’t like doing it that way at the time.  But I don’t regret it either–and I think on *rare* occasions, this is how God parents me.  Sometimes, I think he pushes me outside of my comfort zone so that I have nothing left BUT to see the beauty laid out for me… Sometimes He pushes my past my fears to do the wonderful things He has called me to do.  But I think such occasions are rare, just as I think they need to be rare with my child.

More often than not, I think that when God has something else for us and we’re focused on “this thing” God allows us to pursue this thing while gently guiding us towards the better thing, until we get tired of “this thing” or His thing appeals to us more, and then we make the decision for ourselves to embrace the thing that He’s got for us.

It’s not about Him circumventing our free will and badgering us into “His way”.  It’s about the fact that He knows us, and knows what will excite our Spirit and connect with our very beings and help us step into the people we were created to be, and fill our hearts with the deepest of Joy.  So He lays these things out for us, and then helps us to catch sight of these things.. to understand what they really are—and at that point WE DECIDE to follow Him there.

This is how I want to parent my child.  I want her to make the decision herself.  This morning she was intent on doing something that I know she actually hates.  So I kept on offering her the other option, while helping her to get ready to do the thing she hates (go in a shower–she hates the water falling directly on her head) and then just as she was about to step into the shower, she decided for herself that she wanted to do the other option i’d laid out for her.  And after this encounter I mused about God’s parenting, and how I think, ultimately, this really is how God parents us almost all the time.  He sets parametres that keeps us ultimately safe, he goads and prompts, encourages, chides, and ordains things for us, but despite being omnipotent, doesn’t exert control or force on us.  He beckons us into choice!

And if the God of the universe doesn’t need to flex to show His children who is in control…  Why should I ever feel that need!?
God is bigger

Image  —  Posted: February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
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A Smashing Christmas Season

Posted: December 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Simultaneously reluctant and in a hurry as I approached my car which was about to transport me to an appointment I was worried I’d be late for and didn’t really want to go to anyways, I arrived at my car, popped the trunk, and dropped my things inside.  As I closed the trunk, I heard the familiar satisfying soft thud of the airtight seal closing, accompanied by what sounded like the tinkling of a chandelier.
That’s odd… I thought to myself.
I flipped the switchblade style key open and opened my driver’s door and was horrified to see that my soft grey upholstery on my passenger seat was glinting with little greenish gems… Fear, anger, anxiety, and helplessness overwhelmed me as it hit me with unrelenting clarity: My car was broken into—and my purse was gone.

smashngrab

Knowing that my purse would have been a pretty disappointing trophy to even the pettiest of robbers, I half-heartedly searched the parking lot and surrounding wooded area in hopes of finding the worthless-to-him bag of invaluable-to-me items discarded.

I was not so lucky.
I’ve always been the sort of person who tries to see the humanity in the people who have wronged me—tries to understand what would drive a person to commit hurtful acts.  I reasoned that this individual was desperate and maybe just trying to provide a Christmas for his family.  Call me sexist, but I consider my burgler to be male, for the simple reason that I’ve yet to meet very many females who possess the strength and resourcefulness to smash a car window and make off with a purse and book of CD’s in a matter of 20 minutes…
After a couple of kind souls helped me to scrape glass out of the window frame and off my seat, and rig up a garbage bag-duct tape window, I drove my car down to the glass shop, where I learned that this activity skyrockets during the month of December.

So I’ve been reflecting on a few things.  This unfortunate robber made off with a book of CD’s that are unlikely to appeal to the sort of character perpetrating a robbery—10 children’s DVD’s, and a purse that contains no credit cards, 12 cents in change, and a 10 dollar food voucher that he would have to sign for if he even attempted to use it in the first place, and nothing else—of any value to him.  I, however, have lost my ID, my bank cards, my apartment keys, and of course the window itself.  As I’ve gone about attempting to secure accounts and replace what was lost so I can continue paying my bills, the totality of what I have lost keeps clicking in front of my eyes like an abacus on steroids…  The apartment keys, due to the keyless entry security that we have, cost about 400 to replace.  The window is about 200.  The license is 30 to replace… and I have to wait for about a month to even get an appointment thanks to the Christmas season. In the meantime, I cannot drive, which is an essential component of my job.  In order to renew my license I have to pay my overdue toll bill… which I need to work in order to raise the money to pay.
For the profit of 12 cents, some CD’s and a food voucher, this individual has essentially robbed me of my home, my job, income, etc.
so I’ve been mulling over what would drive a person to do something like this.  And I’ve decided that desperation or not… It’s an egregiously selfish act.  I mean really, what was he hoping for?  Maybe 200 bucks cash?  I don’t expect a smash and grab burgler to be the best at making calculations, considering the cost-benefit analysis of perpetrating such a crime in the first place, but I would expect that even such a petty thief would have the street smarts to recognize that a person who drives the sort of car he was about to smash isn’t the sort of person who has credit cards with high limits, or gobs of cash—and since my purse was out of sight, my bet would be that he was going for the CD’s and was “lucky” to find the purse down there beside them.  So at best, he’s hoping for a 200 dollar profit from his crime.  And for that he’s willing to cost me a minimum of the same to replace the window (not to mention whatever I’d lose to his theft) and in reality, all of what I’ve just described…

This is the epitome of greed.  The epitome of selfishness.  My need is worth more than you or your life or how this will affect you, so I am smashing your window and taking what I want.  And Christmas is when this crime becomes the most rampant?  Smash and Grabs are most prevalent at Christmas?  Hardly the season of peace and love and all that jazz that I’ve been hearing about.

But lets face it this attitude is prevalent ALL OVER at Christmas season!  It’s the same attitude that drove someone to smash my window, that drives people to trample one another in store entrance on Black Friday.

>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOVD-m8urJU <<

 It’s the same greed that turns roadways into parking lots and parking lots into case studies for roadrage.  The same selfishness that snatches the last turkey out of the grocery store because you’re sure that you need it more than the woman who was racing you for it.  The same greed that has my nephew screaming and throwing his present back at the tree when he finds out it’s not the superhero he wanted, or compels… (impels?) children to write lists as long as a roll of toilet paper to santa about all the toys they want for Christmas.
It’s the very reason we all swoon when we hear about children who tell santa they want him to bring something to all the poor children or they want him to give their little sister the doll she’s always wanted, etc etc etc.   These things makes us swoon because the *break* the norm.  Because in the midst of frantically scrambling for our needs and pushing our way to the front of lines, we paused for a moment to realize deep down that the unselfishness of that child is somehow better.  That unselfishness…  actually getting to the point of putting others ahead of ourselves…  well that’s actually approaching something we *say* Christmas is all about…  that’s what LOVE is, isn’t it?

Let me tell you what else happened after I found my car window smashed.  Two men sacrificed their own needs/wants to come to my aid.  Men who had just come from working out and weren’t dressed for the cold spent 45 minutes in the cold, helping to look for the robber and/or my purse, helping to clean the glass out of the door and my seat, helping to rig up a temporary window covering, and brushing the glass away from my tires so that I wouldn’t also have a flat tire to boot.  Just want to re-iterate that… 45 minutes.  I’m sure they had places to go and other things to do.  They sacrificed their schedule comfort, and probably got a cut or two in the process.  Another woman gave me 45 dollars “towards the deductible”.  These people gave of themselves for no other reason than to help me.  Now I don’t want to be overly-sentimental like some nickelodeon kid’s Christmas movie and start attributing their kindness to the magic of Christmas. . .  But here’s where I DO see a connection between their actions of love and Christmas.  If this world is awful and helpless on its own, and this baby changes everything… then these pictures of unselfishness and love… they WOULD be gems in the midst of the mire of selfishness, wouldn’t they?  I mean, everything we’ve looked at so far…   despair, chaos, and now selfishness— these seem to be the norm…  but is there really anyone who doesn’t LOVE and LONG for the idea of hope, peace, and love instead?

the snitch

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s almost impossible to find a child who doesn’t feel the inherent need to make sure that the “right” person is getting in trouble when an authority figure stumbles on a problem situation.
But we all know there are some kids who feel that need more intensely, more consistently, and more relentlessly than others.

I worked with one such child, and mused about the behavior that I was seeing.

I watched as he unintentionally ostracized himself from friends and siblings with his consistent tattling.   I watched him and another child playing a game.  The other child broke one of the rules of the game (not understanding the rule).  This boy tried to explain the rule to the other child, and the other child still didn’t understand.   At a loss for what to do, and trembling with rage at the injustice of the rule being broken, this boy came running to me, and angrily reported, “Mya is CHEATING!”

I had watched the whole situation… I knew that *Mya was not intentionally breaking rules to her own advantage, but that she didn’t understand the game correctly.  But that did not change this little boy’s feeling that injustice had been done and that it needed to be rectified.

I mused about how this behavior is simply annoying!  Children don’t tolerate it  in eachother and gradually the snitch becomes the kid that nobody wants to play with.

We’ve all known “the snitch”.  Maybe some of us have been “the snitch”.
And most of us have probably heard the old phrase, “no one likes a tattle-tale”  (which, for the record, is a terrible way to discourage a child from tattling… even if it is true and effective.)

But for the damaging effects of tattling and the nuisance of the behavior, we lose sight of how the snitch actually shows us a picture of God.
I often am too busy finding the balance of challenging the snitch to relax and trust that not everyone’s motivations are as malevolent as he perceives, and satisfying his quest for justice in appropriate ways–too busy to recognize that his quest for justice is a beautiful, God-given instinct.

The snitch rarely tattles because he has a sinister desire to see someone else suffer in the discomfort of punishment.
The snitch tattles because he can’t abide the thought of wrong being done and justice not also being served.  There is a created order, cause and effect, action and consequence balance. . .  and if this is upset or out of order, it’s a terrifying thought to him.  He tattles, because he needs to feel the security of knowing that the things in this world that are not right will be put right.

The snitch recognizes that the world is “not the way its supposed to be” and wants it to become that way.
God is a God of justice…  the inborn desire of the snitch to see justice done is a very Godly desire!  It shows his recognition of the order which God created our world to live in.

Unfortunately… (or maybe fortunately)the snitch lacks two things that God posesses.   The snitch gives us a picture of God, but is NOT God.  there are two fundamental things that God possesses along with this sense of justice and balance and the created order…

First..   God is all knowing.  When we set ourselves up as judge of a situation, demanding justice, we are always running the risk of misjudging a situation… because we do not have that perfect knowledge.  We may lack understanding of why a choice was made (which may make all the difference in the world) or we may think we saw something that wasn’t quite what it appeared.

a five year old who knew that his mom was hiding jews might think her mom had just done something terrible if the Nazi’s came to the door and her mom claimed that they were not.  (in all likelihood, the situation would be carefully explained to the 5 year old–but withOUT that explaination…)  without explaination of the implications of the truth, a five year old, may judge their mom to be a liar and think that an injustice has occurred.

In a similar way… we often lack the full picture of reality.   God never does… He always has the full picture… He is TRULY omniscient!  and for that I am grateful!

Second . . .  God is full of mercy and grace.  The snitch has a hard time understanding these things.  But this divine Grace and Mercy is the greatest gift we could receive.

The snitch helps me to see this too…   Imagine, for a moment, life with neither grace nor mercy.  The snitch would be the standard.  the “nuisance” of trying to appropriate justice for his every concern wouldn’t be a “nuisance”… it would be an obligation.  Every little thing that is not right… every rule broken by accident, every careless word spoken in anger, every wrong turn, or mistake, or intentional hurt would bear dire consequences.  There would be no getting off with a warning for driving without insurance.  There would be no lessening of fines.  No “re-serves” when someone didn’t know a rule.  No training periods at work, no relationship restoration after careless words. . .

forgiveness doesn’t have a place in a world without mercy and grace.  when you break a relationship… it would be irreparably broken.

“the wages of sin is death”  This makes sense even as a logical consequence.  If there is no mercy and no grace… human relationships would break down so that the human race simply wouldn’t continue!  and how many actions are so egregious that the logical consequence of the action is to remove that person from the human race?  Would lying be considered damaging enough to the community that a liar ought to be killed, since a liar cannot be trusted anyways?

the reality, for which I am grateful, is that I simply cannot picture a world without grace.   Even the “secular” world would protest that we cannot set ourselves up as judge over such examples as I’ve just given. . .  but that’s just it!  with neither Grace nor Mercy we would be required to do so!

“but the gift of God is eternal life”

So today… I am grateful for the snitch, because he shows me the foundations of justice, of cause and effect, of action and consequence… the order our world was created to live in, and he reminds me of the incredible gift of God’s Omniscience, Grace and Mercy.

May we learn to live with a respect and appreciation for justice and order, and an endless gratitude for Grace and Mercy!

*”Mya” is not child’s real name

Living a sitcom

Posted: August 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Have you ever noticed that when we watch a sitcom, we are engaging in two or three stories concurrently?  There is usually a main plot, with at least one sub-plot woven through it.  You could must about how this is testament to our culture’s short attention span, or theorize that it satisfies our need to feel bombarded with stimuli, etc etc…
But i think it’s more about mirrorring our lives.

Sometimes the main plot line is too intense.  Often longer-running sitcom series will dedicate shows within their series to tackling more challenging or graver scenarios.  Once the viewership has built a “relationship” with the characters and/or the show can trust that viewers no longer need to be tickled to remain interested, many sitcoms will engage in heavier, or more serious situations.  During these series and episodes, subplots are often employed as comedic relief or merely a gentle reprieve from the intense bombardment of the intense situation that is taking center stage.

Over the past four months, I have discovered a gratitude of the reality that our lives are like that.  Egocentric, or narcissistic as it might sound to actually put it into words… the reality is our own stories are usually the main plot.  We live in our own skin, and therefore, the situations… comedic or tragic or in between. . . that WE live consume the most “screen time” the most of our thoughts, emotions and experience.  Sometimes our own plot may get so intense that we forget about the “sub-plots” – – the myriads of stories being lived around, intersecting, and beside our own.

These stories are magnificent gifts.

sometimes the main story in a sitcom falls flat or run’s stuck and the subplots carry the show for a few episodes.

Sometimes our main story gets dark, or bleak or hopeless, and the stories being lived around us carry us.  Sometimes when you can’t find joy in your own life, the joy that others are experiencing brings joy to your own.

 

the other day, I realized that although the past four months of my “main plot” have felt pretty lousy and miserable, there have been things that kept me going.  I realized that there are days and weeks where the people around me whom I love have situations of their own, positive or negative that I have a role in.

God gives us these lives that he calls us to live, but he doesn’t give them to us isolated.  He writes us into our own stories like any good writer writes a story…  He gives us eachother he puts our stories in community and in conversation with other stories.

The gift of this is that at one time or another every one’s story will have sadness or emptiness, or even appear to be ending. . .  but He has given us these other stories in which to become engaged, to laugh and love and cry and LIVE.  So when your story takes a turn for the worse, don’t fixate on it!

Sometimes when someone is suffering people say, “you’re not the only person in the world who has a problem you know” . . .  and this generally seems to be a callous thing to say. . .   It seems to me that this phrase is typically spoken in exhaustion or exasperation from dealing with someone who is fixating on their own story.  It seems to me that this phrase (which i think is rarely, if ever, spoken well) is an attempt to do something good.. something that is genuinely helpful… to encourage the person to see other people… to engage them in the subplots around them.

Rather than pity ourselves for the enourmity of our pain, seeing the stories that are being written around us and engaging them with compassion, joy, sympathy of all sorts… this can be healing!   Not because you see that someone else “has it worse” than you and you feel better about your own life (tho i guess that can happen) but because you realize in those moments, that your story actually ISN’T the main story.

 

THESE moments.. the ones where we remember to engage in the subplots around us… they are the moments where we remember on some level of our consciousness, that our stories are all subplots to the main story. . .  and all of our stories are written inextricably linked to one another’s, woven together and in and through and connected with eachother and with the main story… a story that begins and ends with Love.

and that story is a story of enduring hope!

“wait”

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Few things frustrate me as much as my daughter’s temper tantrums when the answer to her question is actually “yes”  but comes with “just wait” attached…

I know it’s hard for her to understand that the answer is actually yes when the results haven’t been produced yet… her little mind can’t really comprehend anticipation if she doesn’t see evidence of the result being produced… not yet.

So when she asks to play outside, and I don’t immediately open the door for her, she’s okay with it if she recognizes the actions that are happening in the meantime as actions that lead towards that open door.  When Mama gets out the sunscreen, she connects that action to her desired result…  the door WILL open soon.

Or when she asks for a snack, and sees preparations being made in the kitchen, she is able to wait… even clapping her hands in anticipation, and doing a little dance, or jumping, or grinning wildly…

When my child asks me for something, she is consumed by her desire for that thing.  Her whole world is a brighter place when she gets what she has asked for.  Likewise, her whole world is devastated if Mama answers “no”.

If I won’t let her play with my cell phone, she can’t think of an alternative activity…. in her mind, she has met the end of recreation indefinitely.

fortunately, she is fairly easily distracted.  Her “baby” or “bubbles” or a drink of juice quickly fill the void in her life.

but “wait”… now THAT is a hard answer.

We are in the car, and her water bottle has slipped from her hands.  All she can think of is how she NEEDS a drink of water.  i hear a hopeful little voice implore from the back seat, “more?”  “peesh?  more?”

and I say, “yes baby, but Mama’s driving, just wait one minute”

this response is met with a cry of indignation… and then she tries again

“more? peesh Mama?  more”

and I say, “it’s coming sweetie, just wait a minute”

now my daughter is a perceptive child, and she can see that I am making no moves to retrieve her water bottle for her.  She doesn’t really believe that “wait” is going to lead to the fulfillment of her desires.

she begins to thrash, and kick her legs and yell… and these tears rapidly dissolve into heartbroken weeping, as tears stream down her face, and trickle into her mouth, taunting her thirst with with their saltiness.

Finally I arrive at a red light, reach back and retrieve the water bottle and hand it to my sweating child.  she looks at me with a look of betrayal and gratitude all in one, and takes the water bottle.  sometimes she hugs it for a while first… its presence seeming to serve as a comforting reminder that Mama did listen…  other times she drinks greedily to satisfy her thirst… and then throws down the bottle in indignation… because her pain or anger at being “ignored” has still got her upset at her Mama.

Last weekend, as my daughter cried when I did not immediately produce grapes out of my purse after she had finished the last one in her hand, I realized that I am exactly like her.  She asked for more grapes, and the answer was yes, but in order to get them, I needed to first shift her on my lap into a position that she would not fall to the ground, and THEN I would be free to reach into my purse to get the grapes.  She did not see this action as leading to “yes”… she was hurt and angry at what felt like a “no” to her.

and how often am I not exactly the same?

When God says yes, it is delightful.  when God says “no” it is hard… even mystifying.  but when He says wait…  that’s different.

Sometimes I can see that there is a progression of things happening here… in my heart, in the world around me, in the people and things that may be affected, before “yes” can arrive.  It’s easy to hold on to hope and faith in the promise of “yes” in these times.

I once informed God in a fit of anger that I was going to plant a church that he was going to *like* (the tacit condemnation being that the church I had just stomped out of was an affront to God’s righteousness)
God, in His tenderness blindsided me in His response, such that it derailed my judgemental attitude, and confounded  my rant.  He said, “yes, you are.  But not until you are doing it out of love and not out of animosity”

After a long, humbled pause during which I looked at my bitter and resentful heart, I asked Him almost mournfully, “how long is THAT going to take!?”

and He didn’t give me an exact timeline, but he showed me specific things that needed to happen to prepare my heart.

This “wait” is easier to have faith in, because I see things unfolding.  I see the preparations happening in my heart… I see the promise coming closer… (and frankly, sometimes I desire it much less these days…  as my piety gives way to humility and I recognize and live the responsibility of ministry!)

Other “waits” feel impossible.  where God tells me, “THIS I have promised to you.  Just have faith.”

For example.  Another time, I had to walk through a series of false accusations.  God showed me what He wanted of me.  He told me that I needed to walk with integrity, and speak not a word in my defense.  And He even warned me that I would lose sight of Him, and implored me to have faith that He would be walking right beside me through this season.

Even THIS was not the hardest “wait” I have received… because He did give me this clear promise.  but I did walk through a DARK season… and I did lose sight of Him.  In that hopelessness, it is hard to believe His promise that I would be restored.

But the hardest “waits” have been the ones where He simply says, “yes.  but wait”  and the waiting is indefinite, and it seems like nothing is moving towards the fulfilment of the promise and some things even seem to be moving away from it.

 

I am an imperfect parent.  But when I tell my daughter to wait, it is nearly always because something else needs to happen first.  It is much better for her to wait for her water bottle than for her to get hurt or worse in a car accident because Mama was turned around finding the water bottle.

It is better for her to have sunscreen on as she plays outside than to have a sunburn but be free to play outside immediately.

She can’t see the cause and effect all the time.

I can’t see the cause and effect all the time.

But just as she learns to trust me that when I say “yes, but wait”  she WILL experience the “yes”, and be content in the waiting, I want to learn to trust my Father, than when He says “wait”… no matter how indefinite the season, no matter how bleak, insufferable, or hopeless it may seem, He has not forgotten about me… He ALWAYS fulfills His promises.

And without Him saying, “wait” every once in a while… How would my spirit ever learn the life-giving disposition that is “HOPE” ?

Stitches

Posted: June 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Wolverine has this incredible mutation that allows him to heal from… just about any wound, really.
It’s not that unbelievable really…  the human body has an unbelievable capacity to heal.

but most of are not Wolverine.  (which is probably a good thing… as awesome as they are, i think retractable bone claws might get annoying)

Which means…  our bodies’ capacities for healing have limits.

We skin our knees, we cut our fingers, we stub our toes, we get viruses, our bodies become infected with bacteria, we suffer lacerations, we bleed… and our bodies simply do what it takes to recover.  They produce antibodies specifically tailored to the infection we are facing, sends proteins and platelets, and the like to repair damaged skin and blood vessels…  and amazingly, our bodies recover.

but sometimes we receive a wound that is too deep for our bodies to repair on their own.

sometimes the bleeding won’t stop on its own.

sometimes.. we need something outside of ourselves to repair the damage.

  sometimes something comes from the outside to help us heal.

And most of the time… when our bodies require that outside healing…  those are the wounds that are more likely to leave a scar… to leave that testament to the pain.. to the depth of the wound.

I can count the number of times my body has needed stitches on one hand.

My heart on the other hand. . .

The thing about our emotional wounding, is that similarly we have an incredible capacity to recover.  The “resilience” of the human spirit is often marveled at in the wake of unspeakable tragedy when we see beauty rising from ashes, when we see children carrying on after terrible abuse… when we see a spouse whose heart continues to beat after she has lost her husband.

The trouble is that the bleeding from our emotional wounding doesn’t usually happen in vibrant, thick crimson that is so hard to ignore.  It’s more like an internal hemorrhage–the damage is devastating… and imperceptible for a long time.

We can suffer terrible wounds, and much like a laceration on our arm may not prevent us from walking and running and jumping (at least not physically) we carry on, giving no heed to our wounds.  Without the bright crimson alerting us to our need for attention to the wound, we minimize and walk about in denial.

Reality is, much like our bodies need stitches or casts or even surgery to correct deeper wounds, our internal wounds often need attention as well.

And it may not be easy to get.

It might seem like more effort than it’s worth

It might hurt like hell.

but with time… it starts to heal.

maybe the wound needs to be clean.  maybe gangrenous infections like bitterness, resentment, pride, self-rightousness, or hate have taken seed.  The purging process isn’t comfortable.  but once it is complete, it feels sooo much better… and can begin to heal!

Maybe we need help to heal… like stitches or a cast…  and the process of resetting what’s been broken or cut…  it hurts… it’s not easy… we’d rather just not touch the wound and look away and hope it’ll go away.  but it won’t, and so we deal with it.  we talk about what is not right and do the hard work of making it right.  it takes courage, strength, support, and… probably tears…

but then it can begin to heal.

and it might scar… and for the rest of our lives, we may remember how we were wounded.
but maybe these scars can also be reminders.  Reminders of the way that we were supported and upheld by a community… how we were connected… how we were loved.

but that… see…. that requires that we take the necessary risk of sharing our wounds with others whom we trust are equipped with what it takes to support us.

Today, I am struck by the reality that stitches teach us how we were created to be in community… to be supported… to be loved… to trust… that it is HERE that our healing takes place!