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Archive for March, 2014

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Lessons for the week:

1. How to take a punch.  

2. How not to get hit.  

Even if you’re not into boxing, these are good life lessons to consider.  Evasion trumps Excedrin every time in my book, so I tend to favor the latter.  None the less, we practiced both last week.  

Two things stand out in my mind from our training sessions.  One is the kidney shot that felt like the end of my life, and the other is the sobering instruction on combination punches.  

“Don’t get hit with the first punch.  Because it’s not gonna be just one…the second, third, and fourth are coming right behind it.  If you get hit with a three or four punch combination, you’re done.  Even getting hit with a few hay-makers spread throughout the duration of the fight is better than getting hit consecutively.  Successive punches are the most devastating.  You will fall.”

Before the words even finished leaving Coach’s mouth, the concept was resonating in my heart with a vengeance.  If there’s one lesson I’ve learned the hard way it is that it does not matter how strong you are – if you take one blow after another without recovery time – be it in life or in the ring – you are going down hard eventually.  No one can stand strong forever under that kind of attack.  

I read Job for the better part of last year.  I studied his life in depth.  I desperately wanted to understand the reaction of a godly man to consecutive, devastating, combination blows to his life.  If there was ever a right reaction, Job’s was probably as close as it comes.  And I guess what it came down to in the end was the revelation of his utter inability to change or control anything – despite his diligence; despite his discipline; despite his strength; despite his goodness; despite his work; despite his earnestness; despite his prayers – despite all he had done right.   It all came down to dependence upon that which he could not see, hear, or, for quite a time, even find at all.  That’s one way to eliminate a God complex now isn’t it?  Right.

Perhaps boxing is the same.  I can’t say for sure.  I’ve never been bloody and beaten inside the ring yet.  But I have in life.  So, perhaps, in the end, when you’re spent but still with several rounds to go, perhaps that’s when you learn to depend on someone outside yourself.  Maybe that’s when all the voices stop, all the second guessing subsides, all the questions cease to matter, and you finally begin to truly hear the only one who’s really in your corner anyway.  Maybe that’s when real trust is born.

Ideally, don’t get hit with the first punch.  Practically, train by taking some I-feel-like-I-just-got-hit-by-a-truck taps from your trainer.  Realistically, learn who is really in your corner and how to trust him even when life’s devastating combinations have made you blind, deaf, and dumb to everything you thought you knew.  Perhaps that is where he is truly found.  

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
    yet I will argue my ways to his face. ~Job 13:15

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“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen.  A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the Queen.  The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.  Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried.” ~Idina Menzel

This is the song my littlest girl sings every day of her life.  With the video release of “Frozen” set for tomorrow, I couldn’t let the day pass without saying something about what it means to us girls.

My littlest girl.  Maylee Ruth.  She won’t open gifts if anyone is watching.  She clings to her mama when she enters new places.  She doesn’t answer questions when more than one person is listening.  She is going to be five in two short weeks.  My youngest daughter is inexplicable shy.  Her feelings are more fragile than anyone else in the family.  All you have to do is look at her wrong and she runs away, hides her face, and begins to cry.

She loves to sing, though.  She’s got a great big, bossy mouth at times, too.   If no one is watching she belts it out like nobody’s business, complete with a heaping dose of charisma and congeniality.

I used to sing, too.  That is, until someone, somewhere who was in a position of power told me I could not.  I stopped singing.  I felt small.  I believed him.  I felt sad.  I was small.  I was sad.

What does a little girl do when she cannot sing her song?  What if she’s got something serious to say?

Perhaps she speaks instead.

It seems somewhat strenuous to speak when one is not being spoken to, though.  When all the important people are talking and all the seats are taken, sad, small voices don’t get much of a listen.  So, in her shyness, she sheepishly stops speaking.  She retreats the moment she realizes all that she says is sterile.

What does a little girl do when she is unheard, though?  What if she has something she simply must say?

Perhaps she will write instead.

Yes.  She will write.  She will write and write and write.  Every single day she will write what most grips her heart and she will show it to them.  She will share every thought; every joy; every pain; every discovery.  She will share her very heart with ink and parchment.  She will be an open book for all who care to read.  Her fragile, timid heart will be read in the lines of her expositions.  The risk of rejection after much rejection is even greater now.  But…well…I suppose she will share it anyway because, because, because she has so very much to say.

She found the pearl some years ago.  She found what every heart seems to search unknowingly for.  She must show them.  She must describe him.  She must seize their attention somehow.  She must!  So, she writes.

She hears the powerful people shout repeatedly from the table.  Over and over and over again soberly at her they say, “STOP!”  They want her to be silent.  She stopped singing.  She stopped speaking.  “Now, just stop scribbling, small trifle.  There is no seat here for your songs, your statements, your stories, or your study.  Stay silent and small where no one can see him in you.”

She thought.  She thought and thought and thought about this final instruction.  She felt fragile.  She cried.  She stayed quiet for some time.  She even stopped searching for him.  She started to give up.  He was, after all, everything to her.  He was all that was real.  He was all she ever had.  She could not bear not sharing him.  He was her heart.  Without him, she turned cold.  She no longer cared.  Nothing was real.  Nothing meant anything without him.

Jesus.  She wrote about Jesus.  She loved him all her life…since she was a small, shy, fragile, poor, little girl.  Moreover, he loved her.  She simply had to say it.

What does a little girl do when she stops writing about her first love, though?

Perhaps she hides her face and begins to cry.  She is just a little girl with feelings more fragile than anyone else in the family, after all.  Maybe, just maybe, she will let it go for good this time, though.  Funny thing about little girls, though…they often let go when they really should be holding on and hold on when they really should be letting go.  No matter.  Perhaps its far too late for such realizations.  Perhaps she will seek what is real and true apart from those whom she always thought could help her do so.  The cold doesn’t bother her anyway.

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After another stellar workout and a mind full of regrets, she gets in the car to leave.  She notices an unfinished book that has tucked itself down between the seats.

“Holiness.”

She shrugs and rolls her eyes.  Holiness.  As if ten years and a second read could really make it sink in; make her any different.  She sits and stares as her anger forbids the inevitable avalanche of dammed up pain from bursting forth – at least for the moment.  Spiritually spent, she starts the engine and dutifully drives home.

Deep thoughts linger as the realities of the day play out around her.  Like a dream wherein she is only an observer she feels fully detached.  She watches as her four year old reaches for the dog.  Once, he nips her.  Twice, he scratches her.  Thrice, he bites her.  Each time, pain followed by premature forgiveness.  He lunges again and her countenance changes.  No more soft, sad eyes.  No more holding her own little hands together trying to ease the hurt.  No more whimpers as she waits for an apology of sorts.  No.  With new-found fury in her eyes, she stands up tall over top of him.  Viciously, she grabs his knotted toy and she seeks revenge.  She is me.

She cooks.  She teaches.  She obeys.  She submits.  She forgets.

She feeds.  She fails.  She rebels.  She usurps.  She remembers.

So, she fights.  She fights.  Her fury fuels her fear and she finishes what she figured she would always fight against.  She fails.  She fights.  She fails.  She will not forgive.

She exits the externally pristine world her best efforts have created.  The envy of her peers destroys any sense of accomplishment achieved by that which was real.  The sting of frozen air comforts her with its familiarity.  She runs.  She wonders how she got this far away.  She feigns forgetfulness.  She pines for perfection, but as she peers inward all she ever sees is that pitiful, poor little girl so plagued by the past.

Far away from what?  It all seems so false.  Holiness?  Truth?  Righteousness?  Reality?  What is it all about anyway?  She is unsure why she is so unsure.  She is indifferent about her sudden indifference.  Apathy.  Hollowness.  Emptiness.  Nothingness.  Darkness.

She stays outside until her hands ache with cold.  “Ice Queen” is the name she has been given.  She cannot figure whether it is because the cold does not faze her or just because it is so wretchedly plain to see that her heart is bitter cold.  Perhaps it is a little of both.  All she knows is that she no longer cares.  Apathy and numbness have spread like cancer over all affections.  She is dying.

She attends the high school musical.  Beauty and the Beast perform an epic that seeks to awaken her lost love once again.  She watches as a princess sacrifices herself for the sake of her father- a father who loves her immensely.  She dozes, exhausted from the week’s fight.  She awakens to a beast with a changed heart sitting at the table with an even more beautifully clothed princess.  She no longer sees staying with him as a sorrow-filled sacrifice.  She wonders if the fairy tale will materialize or if she is simply an utter fool.

Finally, she closes her eyes and she struggles to slowly sift through all the sickness and sedentary shadows she stores inside.  She searches for a shred of something that has somehow been so long stolen.  She reluctantly surrenders.  She swears it will be the very last time.

Hope.  She hopes.  She will still lose.  She already has.  With the taste of failure still in her mouth, she remains.  God save her.

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