Exploring where life and story meet!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Comes the morning

My night lasted for eight long months, but at last the morning has come and joy with it.  No, I did not win the lottery or buy a new car or acquire any other thing that modern society deems necessary for joy.  My grief is past, my tears are spent, and at last, I am a real person, not just an amorphous paper doll donning whatever disguise she deems necessary for another's satisfaction.  My whole world has changed, just not the physical aspects.  I have walked through the valley of sorrow and found at last the peak of joy, and I must say the view is certainly worth it.  I would not choose my former circumstances, nor do I wish to endure them again, but I think it has been worth it, this struggle, this pain, this heartache, for it has made me the person I now am.  Much as birth must be endured for new life, so too do the pains of sorrow and grief and trial give place to personal growth and a deeper sense of life and self, unless they are not weathered properly but rather are stillborn as bitterness and misery and resentment.

It is not your outward circumstances that dictate your level of joy and contentment, but rather who you are on the inside, that part of you that will live forever, either an 'immortal horror or everlasting splendor' as C.S. Lewis puts it.  Our culture abhors even the idea of a soul, though we relish the idea of physical immortality.  Everything is about what you have and what you look like and what you do, not who you are.  Even our politics have been reduced to physical attributes, with your personal worth based upon race, gender, or whatever, rather than as an image-bearer of God.  But how can there be such pain and heartache and sorrow in the world, not to mention true joy, if we are but a random collection of atoms, if there is no meaning or purpose or this is how it is supposed to be?

Cows are the contentest creatures I am aware of, certainly they can feel pain and fear and anxiety, but they don't know what sorrow is, yes they yearn for their weaned calves for a day or a week, but an abusive calfhood doesn't haunt them all their born days, assuming they can suffer such at the 'hands' of a fellow bovine, which they can't, for they have no notion of good or evil, of enduring beyond their allotted years, no thought beyond enough to eat and drink and to be physically comfortable.  That's the level to which many of my fellow citizens have descended, they wish merely to 'eat, drink, and be merry,' little caring for the higher things of the soul, ignoring the fact that they even have one, counting their 'friends' or 'likes' on social media far more dear and certainly more important.

But you have a soul, we all do, and if it has been grievously injured, it can heal, but the worst thing you can do is neglect it or pretend that it doesn't exist and thereby stifle your own growth into who you were meant to be.  It is not pleasant at times, it is not pretty, but there is nothing that will yield greater rewards.  Perhaps that is why I find modern literature so dull and insipid and dreary, it has no soul!  For if the writer does not believe men to be more than cattle, how can they inspire us to believe differently or even to care? And I fear our personalities have become as banal as our books, for the very same reason: soul rot.  Perhaps it is time to open the windows and dust out those forgotten rooms, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Take a seat

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2 ESV)."

'We are God's children NOW,' just a simple statement of fact, written two thousand years ago, how very strange and wonderful that it can still cause a beating heart to thrill with very joy!  Most people probably don't care and of those who do, they'd probably scratch their heads and wonder what the big deal is.  But I'm skittish, so very nervous in this area.  You see, I was nobody's child, I was unwanted and unloved, used, abused, and neglected by my earthly parents, how much less could I be of interest to a Heavenly Father?  But He was there, even in my darkest nights when I could not sleep for fear or crying.  Even when I was unloved by any other earthly creature, I knew, somehow, that He loved me, but I had no comprehension of what love meant; to me it was always a sort of benign neglect: my needs were met and someone wasn't yelling at me, that was the best I could hope for, to me that was happiness indeed.  But that wasn't His definition of love nor His hope for me.

Lately, I've come to realize what love is, and that I'm not on the outside looking in, but rather I might actually stand on the very verge and bask in its light, though I certainly couldn't draw near its heart, not me; I'm grateful for even the barest flicker of its light, what more could I want or hope for, this is far more than I ever imagined.  But that's not good enough for Him.  Not by a long shot.  I need to quit being content to pick up the crumbs under the table when He's set a place just for me.  I even get dessert!  It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done, there's a place at the table for you too, but you have to sit down. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016


'Where there is no vision, the people perish…' ~Proverbs 29:18a~

In modern America, the modus operandi is me-me-me, what is best for me, what I need, what I want, me-time, etc.  I even saw a review of a new book, though fictional, it was encouraging the idea of 'me'-ternity leave, that is, maternity leave for women who are not welcoming a child into their families, the author apparently appalled that certain women get extra time off just because they happen to have kids, it just isn't fair!  I just wonder how far this sense of entitlement can go, we are so focused on ourselves that we not only neglect others, but we underestimate God; we make Him into a thing as small and fickle as ourselves.  This idea of individualism has not spared the church.  How many people never experience 'the body of Christ,' because they 'don't need the church' or it's 'just not my thing.'  We can do the church thing on our own, at home, at the lake, whatever, as long as we're thinking about God, right?  Not so much, to continue Paul's analogy, it is something akin to one of your cells deciding it doesn't need the body and trying to set up shop on its own: it will die.  You won't die physically, but spiritually, you are going to shrivel up and never flourish, like a seed cast upon the sidewalk, you'll never grow or bloom.

Another aspect of this is those of us who have grown up in homes and been educated in places where there is no hope, no joy, no love, wherein loneliness and fear and doubt are all you ever know; we don't know that there is such a thing as wonder in the world and can little comprehend it.  It is scary (a good scary) just how big God is, how much He is doing, and how wonderful it will be when brought to fruition, but it can be hard to see, either because we are intentionally blind or because we were never taught to see.  The ugliness of this world is everywhere, even in our own souls, we can't escape seeing it, but 'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep,' at least if you know how to look for Him.  I was reminded of this earlier this week at a lady's conference I attended, where I was happily reminded that it is not about me, or even us, but about Him.  All my problems and unease, doubts and fears, are nothing to Him who wrought the stars and flung the planets into their orbits, and better yet, He has called me beloved, and daughter, and child, words I never heard growing up, a reminder I so desperately need while I recover from my childhood traumas and learn what it is to actually be a person.

If your faith is stagnant or failing, if the world seems too big and ugly for you to believe in a good and loving God, it might be time to quit looking at yourself, worrying about all your concerns, and even take your eyes off the world about you, and rather look to the One who made it all.  Don't do it alone, get together with others, be part of the body, support one another, open your eyes to His presence in the world, see what His people are doing, and be part of it; lose yourself in Him to find yourself, that is what the church is for, that is what it means to 'lose the whole world and gain your soul.'