Thursday, January 27, 2011

Being Friends with C.

She drew her knees to her chin and tilted her face in that way she had of inviting you in. Her eyes smiled gently as she relaxed into the telling of my story. And when I had spoken it all, she listened even longer. This is how things always begin with her.

Her turn to share was on her and she knew it, but seemed somehow reluctant. As she began to tell about the thing that had developed, the news she'd had to bear, she became vulnerable and delicate to me. Her strength was obvious. Her trust could not be overlooked. Her faith was immovable. She began the journey of this diagnosis, this label, this new life, with all of the hallmarks the woman of faith I know her to be. But in this moment, I only felt her delicate vulnerability.

My friend C, is one of the strongest people I know, but the strength she possesses is unlike the kind I have definitions for. She's the kind of listener most people never have the advantage of experiencing. She's the kind of loyal you wouldn't understand unless you knew her. She's the kind of love you didn't really believe existed outside of fiction. She's like that.

What's going on in her life is, to once again steal my friend Carolyn's phraseology, is "blowing all of my categories". See, for most of us, maybe all of us, the kind of news she and her husband received would be devastating. It would be the kind of news we couldn't imagine ever adjusting to or finding a way to deal with. But for them, for her, the word that first came to my mind as she shared it was, beautiful. We're talking about a diagnosis that is at once painful, debilitating, limiting....and yet beautiful. SO BEAUTIFUL!

You don't get to know many people like this C. in a lifetime. People who don't just fight to see beauty but naturally seem to have a sort of tunnel vision for it. It's like somehow the other, the darkness of a situation, isn't even on their radar. But don't misunderstand me. It's easy to think of people like this as somehow less smart, less savvy, less .... just, less. But I know C. I know how painfully aware she is of the darkness. And while she doesn't necessarily have to work to push it out, she isn't too stupid to see it either. It's a gift she has and one her husband shares. To be near them is to be near, not just Christ, but somehow, heaven. Sometimes the promises of heaven are a juxtapose for us. They are just too good to be believed. I wish you all could know her. Because to experience her is to begin to understand the juxtapose, the paradox. And you would know it's truth, too good as it may seem, because of the way it's standing there, in the concrete, right in front of you.

Thanks C, for being heaven on earth for your little N. and for the rest of us too!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And Then There Were Two

I've been working my way through Genesis. It always seems like a good book to read in January... when everything is new and starting over for the year. As I walked through the fall of man and the great flood, I was reminded of how just the God we serve really is. Having this sense of justice forefront in my mind I came to the story of Jacob and Esau and the stolen blessing.

"And His Father Isaac said, "And who are you?
"I am your firstborn, Esau."
Isaac started to tremble, shaking violently. He said "Then who hunted game and brought it to me? I finished the meal just now - before you walked in and blessed him. He's blessed for good."
Esau, hearing his words sobbed violently and most bitterly and cried to his father, "My father, can't you also bless me?"
"Your brother came here, " he said, "and he falsely took your blessing."
"Haven't you kept back any blessing for me?"
"I've made him your master and all his brothers his servants. I've lavished grain and wine on him. I've given it all away. What is there left for you?"
From Gen. 27

Genesis 28 goes on to describe how God makes Himself known to the heart of Jacob in a real and meaningful way. Jacob begins a journey of response and we know he goes on to grow in faith and love for his God.

I just don't get that.

Here's what C.S. Lewis had to say on this passage.

" What can you really know about other people's souls - of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbors or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (if you can even remember it) when the anaesthetic fog which we call "nature' or "the real world" fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable."
From Mere Christianity

I guess I'm not the only one who struggled for a bit with the fact that Jacob's deception turned into blessing for him. I mean, here we are hip deep in the justice of God, post fall, post flood and it comes to this; a moment when mother and son team up to deceive, and the God we've come to know as wholly and totally just blesses it?

Leave it to good old "Jack" to wrestle it down and pin truth on it. Mr. Lewis tells me, I can't really know Jacob's soul or struggles. I can only know my own and be responsible for them. In the end, my not "getting" someone else's stuff, or the fairness of a certain situation, or why something was allowed or not allowed to happen in someone else's life won't distract God from the conversation He wants to ... needs to have.... with me.

So, if it's not distracting God, what is the point of letting it distract me? I mean, He goes through alot of work to get me here in this place alone with Him. He really doesn't want to spend it talking about everybody else. Hmmm....that might be nice I guess. :)


On a very seperate and annoying note....does anyone know how I can remove that weird photobucket icon patch that keeps floating around on my blog?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Real Me

Some days I'm stuck just being the real me. Most days I'm not. Most days I have an ideal of who I'd like to be and I can at least muster up an attempt at being "that guy". What's interesting to me is that who I want to be changes from day to day. Some days I want to be a sweet and gentle and my demeanor shows it. Other days I tend toward smart and witty. There are days I wake up trying to be goal oriented. Those days I am focused and I work to achieve. Sometimes I am the encouraging happy face on every one's day. But there are days, days like yesterday, when I don't seem to have it in me to try to be anything or anyone other than just me.

I'm the type who likes variety. If you know me well, you know that I change my furniture layout at least once a month (usually when I'm vacuuming under things anyway). My clothing choices never seem to fit into any certain style category. I'm eclectic with what I wear. I work part time at a job where everyday there are differing responsibilities and tasks, most of which tend toward the creative. I love people. I love all kinds of people, even the people who drive most other people crazy, just because I think it's fun to be around someone new and different. If you were to try to get a glimpse of who I am by my DVR schedule you might think you'd happened upon a schizophrenic. The flip side to all this is that I very quickly grow tired of things.

One of the things I grow tired of fastest is me.

Okay, don't freak out and start posting about how wonderful I am and telling me how much I have to live for. I have never been, and I have a feeling I never will be, one to struggle with the darker, lonelier mentalities. I am not depressed and I don't have tendencies toward it. And to be honest I'm not really even being that hard on myself. I'm just saying that I very quickly grow tired of the same old thoughts that knock around in this same old head on any given day. I guess that's why I choose to try to reflect the ideals of who I would like to be so often rather than settling for boring old me.

Yesterday, the day I didn't have it in me to be anyone but me, people kept asking if I was okay. At first I would try to come up with something. I thought about why I might seem "off" and came up with several options. "I just started my cycle." " It's the second snow day in a row." "My coworker is driving me crazy." All of these were true, but I also quickly realized that the biggest issue was that I was just being myself, so when the next person asked me if I was okay I asked a question in return. "Sure. I'm fine. Can I ask though, do I seem unhappy, or upset, or crabby somehow?" She replied kindly, "No. You're just.... different. You're..... quieter I guess."

It was shocking to me. If you know me in real life you know that quiet is not how most people would EVER describe me. I'd like to think of it as "effervescent" or "lively". But the truth is most days I border on too much. This day though, I was basically being told that to be myself was to be quiet. Now, sometimes I am quieter on the days I'm feeling crabby; mostly because I don't want to rip any one's head off, but I wonder if being quieter isn't also just more the real me than anything else.

I think to some extent or another we all have an ideal version of ourselves that we at least attempt to bring to fruition from time to time. I think that's okay as along as we're drawing from an authentic place. I mean, to some degree we all have the basis for lots of moods and demeanors inside of us. Developing those traits we like best about ourselves is not, in and and of itself, a bad thing. But if we get to the point where we don't even recognize our truest selves, perhaps we've gone too far.

I'm not sure how much of who I am from day to day is real and how much is just me trying to be the best I can be. And at some point perhaps the struggle of that is the most real version of myself.

For that matter I'm not sure how much of the quiet me I can really handle either. But it might be interesting to find out.

When it comes right down to it though, I have a sense of peace about all of this. Because in the end I'm really just a reflection. On bad days, good days, loud days or even quiet days, I'm a reflection of glory. I don't have to do it perfectly or "be" anything because He'll use it all. Yes, He's that powerful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time Traveling

"It's time for letting go ... of all of our if only's cause we don't have a time machine. And if we did. We would really want to use it? We would really want to go change everything? Cause we are who and where and what we are right now. And this is the only moment we can do anything about breathe it in and breathe it out... listen to your heartbeat...there's a wonder in the here and now. It's right there in front of you and I don't want you to miss the Miracle of the Moment."

I woke up today with this Steven Curtis Chapman song playing in my head. I don't remember hearing it recently so I guess I have to assume that it wasn't just something stuck in my brain. It was something God wanted me to hear today.

I don't know if I'm unique in this, or if it's something all of us do but, when an ugly situation rears it's head I tend to look for all the things I may have done wrong or even just differently than I could have. I quickly set in with the "if onlys" and find myself time traveling for better results. It doesn't work like that though. We don't get do overs in the real world.

I've been trying to get over that lately. I've been trying to stop time traveling. Mostly because I know it won't produce any of the results I'm looking for. It only ends in blame, which really doesn't help matters at all anyway. So I've been working to not allow satan to accuse or condemn. But until this morning, with Steven's words floating around in my mind I didn't really get why. I didn't get that there was more.

God doesn't want us time traveling not just because He's already forgiven and forgotten but also and more importantly because He's busy with a miracle this moment that He doesn't want us to miss! That's so amazing to me! See in my life right now and in yours He is doing something incredible. He's ALWAYS doing something incredible and so no, He doesn't want us going back and trying to change things because then He won't be "right here in front of us"....." in the wonder of the here and now"..." working it all for our good."

To God, as the song goes on to say, even the future is history. So it's really important that we stay in the moment if we want to get in on all of His glory. If we want to experience the miracle.

I have five teenagers and one precious little boy waiting in heaven. If you're a parent you understand when I say that I have ALOT of opportunities for time traveling if onlys. But giving the devil that kind of power in my life will completely rob me of my chance to see what God is doing right now.

You're right Steven, and thank you for not wanting me to miss this moment's miracle!