Suffering

Against my wishes, I often find myself walking alongside a dear one who is suffering. As a great avoider of conflict and discomfort, just saying that this is not my forte seems like a puny statement.

Suffering does not always mean physical pain. In this case it involves failure, sadness, mental illness, and reaping the results of poor choices. It equally involves skewed childhood memories, some acknowledged truthfully and others exaggerated by raw and broken emotions.

It is no fun. I often think it looks like picking up a dull knife and ripping your abdomen open. “Stuff” spews out. It’s messy, it stinks, some of the “stuff” is important to your survival, and the rest needs to be disposed of, buried deep or burned to ashes.

And it hurts. It’s pain beyond imagining. But not all pain and suffering are evil. Some suffering is necessary, like giving birth to yourself..a new and more whole person, because the garbage inside that is poisoning you has been ripped out.

We can never be equal to this task. It is only the Spirit of God holding us together that keeps us standing and listening and loving. God alone gets any credit earned. Never us.

I pray each day for God to hold me in a steady line. I need God’s hand on my words, my thoughts, and my emotions. I must be “immovable” in the eye of this storm.

God has never failed to guide me. Thanks be to God.

Advertisements

Me As I Really Am

I am fairly confident that none of my grammar teachers from high school or college would be thrilled with the title of this blog post, but it states the problem and the solution to my current dilemma so nicely that…eh, whatever.

I am sixty-four years old.  Not ancient by today’s standards, but certainly not young either.  If there is a robbery and the home’s occupant is a sixty-four year old person, the news reporters will refer to that person as “elderly.”

Elderly means lots of different things, I suppose.  There are sixty-four year olds running marathons.  There are sixty-four year olds climbing mountains, biking, hiking, all of those wonderful physical achievements that at one time were only associated with much younger folk.  I, sadly, am not that “youngish in the sixties” kind of gal.

Almost ten years ago, I took a nasty tumble and did a real number on my back.  It happens.  You fall, and when you get back up, things in your life take a turn,  I still manage most things, but I can no longer pretend that there are marathons and mountain climbing in my future.  I wish there were those adventures ahead for me, but, probably not. Truth be told, the grocery store can be a marathon for me on some days.

The deal is…ugh, gasp, choke…that I am actually considering getting a cane.  Sigh. How can that even be? Forget the whole “aging gracefully” thing, this is hard.  I once told my beautiful daughter that I did not want to be defined by my stupid, rotten, no good, very bad back.  Won’t using the can just solidify my being a “not cool in her sixties loser?”

I am a “boomer” and we naively thought that we were never going to age, dumb, dumb, dumb. We foolishly thought that by the sheer force of our will that we could stave off the ravages of aging.  Again, dumb. Good Lord, I still wear my hair long, and dress in jeans about 95% of the time. How did I become an “elderly” woman?

So, at some point soon, my sweet man and I are going to go “cane shopping.”  Just try that in a sentence about yourself.  Ugh. Just thinking this cane better be gorgeous, have to go well with my jeans, right?

Give Us Strength for the “In-Between”

Lord we thank you for the your daily blessings, we are overwhelmed by your mercy and grace, but we still get lost here some days, in the “in-between.”  We know you have led us here to this very day, this very moment, this very path, these very people, and yet we still feel lost sometimes.  It isn’t that we doubt you, it isn’t that we cannot look ahead, it is just that we are feeling uncertain in our steps, afraid of stumbling and losing our way.

Take away our doubts and fears, give us strength for the journey.  Refill us with your assurance that we are headed in the right direction.  Fill us with your strength, guide our feet, guard our hearts, and lead us always toward you.  Amen.

Jumping Down Off Your High Horse

     When you are very young you think you know everything. I think this naivete is a cloak of ignorance that envelopes us so we don’t just quit before our lives even get started. If we are honest, we all wore that “cloak” at some point, before real life intervened, before we landed face first into the muddy messes we created in our lives, before we really knew God’s  forgiveness, or even acknowledged our need for it.
    I remember thinking I knew a lot about life.  What is it about lack of real life experience that gives us that surety, that unflagging judgement, that indefatigable sense of knowing “better?” I’m confessing I was there once, before real life and frequent failure brought me down a few pegs. You know the drill…before you get married you are a total expert about marriage…before the birth of your own children you know oh so much about parenting, like “only bad parents have bad kids,” you know, really insightful things like that. Life teaches, oh how it shapes us and chiseles off our sharp judgements.
     When I was a little girl, our family went to church every Sunday. We had to, my Dad had to preach the sermon and Mom had to direct the choir and teach Sunday School.  Our job was to be quiet, stay clean, and sit still. (It’s harder than it sounds.)
     I remember sitting in the front row of the church choir and reciting the beautiful liturgy of the old Methodist hymnal’ s communion service. There is a line there that to this day, more than fifty years later, still stirs my soul. “I am unworthy to gather the crumbs from beneath your table, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
     I sat there, week after week, and year after year, not knowing that I had been healed. I was too young to even know I needed healing.
    This year I will be sixty-four. I have been shaped, chiseled, forgiven, and healed. I still have so much work to do. Life knocks us down off that high up place. We know how much we do not know, and it is daunting and humbling.
    But God uses all of it, the good and bad, the triumphs and failures to fashion us for his purposes. And through it all our greatest gift is a brand new perspective, from a new place, far less “sure” of our own strengths, and no longer looking down on those around us.
    We jump on down off our high horses.