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Archive for September, 2016

Today I Prayed

care

Hello.  My name is Sonny and I am a momaholic.  I have always been around mommy and thought she was really fun, but when I turned nine months old I became more attached to her.  She used to be able to set me down or put me in the playpen and I would play nice.  Now I realize that it is a prison!  The newfound bars to stop me from crawling freely between rooms confirm my suspicion.  Therefore, I cannot, under any circumstances, let mommy out of my sight.  What if I lose her?!  Do you have any idea how much I need her?!  Who can blame me for screaming in withdrawal every time she puts me down?  I have to follow her as fast as my knees will take me everywhere she goes.  All.  Day.  Long.  Even when I am happily playing with my toys, as soon as I realize mommy is not in the room, I wail.  I really need mommy!  I just don’t know how to tell her because I can’t talk yet.  Every time I try it just comes out like a bowl of alphabet soup that got mixed up.  Can you please help me?

If my baby could talk, I imagine she’d say something like that.  If I could talk, I imagine I’d say the same to God.

I am a poor communicator.  I say far too little.  I say far too much.  I say the right things at the wrong time.  I say the wrong things most of the time.  I say nothing when I need to say everything.  I say everything when I ought to say nothing.  I have functioned most of my life as a selective mute.  I struggle daily with trust, relational intimacy, and personal prayer.  No matter how much I try to engage, I feel fearful, insecure, trapped, mute, and imprisoned by my infantile frustrations.  At least when I write, I can babble a little as I seek to learn my weaknesses in efforts to overcome.

I am a bona fide nerd.  Sometimes I can’t even believe how backward and awkward I am in certain settings.  In my quest for understanding I have, in true nerd form, made a diagram pertaining to my tendencies toward weakness and sin as it relates to communication.

chart1.jpg

Like Sonny, I feel trapped.  I feel alone.  I am afraid.  When I can’t see God, I protest.  I am insecure, needy, small, and now, keenly aware of it.  Still, when He picks me up, I just babble.  I go silent.  I wrestle out of his arms.  I am afraid to lose him.  I am afraid to find him.  Do you have any idea how much I need him?  It is terrifying and comforting and unsettling and sanctifying all at the same time.  Is it sinful fear and pride that keeps me from speaking my heart to God?  To others?  Is it unbelief?  Distrust?  The assumption that it will simply hurt too much to be honest?

I hide.  I stay silent.  I switch off all emotion.  It simmers underneath the surface.  Like a foreboding moat full of monsters, I know the fall is coming.

If I could just communicate properly with people, maybe, I think, I could communicate with God.  If I could just communicate with God properly, maybe, I think, I could communicate with people.  Maybe none of it is the truth.

The truth is trickier than a mere introspective evaluation.  The truth is that I distinctly heard God call me into prayer this morning.  The truth is that He was clear and I was able.  But I did not pray much.  Instead, I began to consider the reasons why prayer is so difficult on so many levels.  I began to consider the reasons why communication is so difficult, why I am so unskilled at it, and what I am so afraid of.

Reason.  Logic.  Human understanding.  Searching for those familiar friends, I called out.  For an hour I called out to my favorite idol: intellect.  I heard God call me into His presence to pray and I spent the hour that followed navel-gazing instead.

Daddy doesn’t settle for the silent treatment though.  During the course of my reasoning, I confessed my sin to a friend.  I surrendered my fear and I prayed that the Lord would pick me up.  I envisioned Him holding me the way I hold Sonny despite her wildness; her unrest; her indecision; her impossible will that wrestles out of my arms only to cry to be picked up again.

I am she and she is me.  I am close, though.  I am closer than I have ever been before.  I feel the loving presence of a Father who dotes on me daily.  I hear his voice speaking softly and calling me to speak.  My words are minced; meager; murmurs; but they are mine and He is musing.  Be they babble or brazen, I am his baby and He hears my less than best attempts.  Therefore, I rest.  Though it took more tries than I might hope for tomorrow, today I prayed.

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The Louder Things

redtide

We were at a backyard party.  Daddy was playing in the band.  The host had roasted a pig.  It was the highlight of my five year-old summer.  Maybe I was six.  I don’t know exactly.  But I do know what color mom’s shorts were.  I remember her face as she began to cry in front of the whole company of party-goers.  I remember her awkwardly sitting in a chair outside as she sobbed asking no one in particular, “Why is this happening again?”  I remember the ladies gathering ’round to comfort her and taking her inside.  I remember not being allowed to follow.

 I was playing outside with my brother when Daddy told us he had to take Mommy to the hospital.  No one told us why.  Maybe it was the bits of conversation we overheard.  Maybe it was the cloud of disappointment in the air.  Those were the louder things one hears even when no one is talking.  Somehow we just knew.

This was not Mommy’s first miscarriage.  It was her third. The first two happened before I was born, and, even though it was never openly discussed, I still heard of them.

My mother had five pregnancies and only two children to show.  Like a darkness hanging over my womb, I always wondered if I would experience the same.  From the moment I became pregnant the very first time until the baby arrived I worried and wondered if I, too, would lose my baby before I saw her.

God did something else, though.  God gave me a beautiful, healthy baby with no complications.  And then another.  And another.  And another.  Four beautiful, healthy babies.  The thoughts and angst associated with mom’s history was almost nonexistent in my mind.  Nary a worry of what could go wrong or the chance that it would ever even crossed my mind until I saw my first sonogram with baby number five.

The doctor asked how far along I was and with shape to prove it I proudly replied, “Eleven weeks.”  Thirty seconds later an eleven week baby did not pop up on the monitor like the previous four times I had done this, though.  He told me he did not see a baby at all.  He called out the door in decibels that, at that moment, sounded louder than the voice of God to cancel my blood work.  He explained the probability that I had miscarried and sent me for another ultrasound.

I filled the next two hours with busyness.  When I saw my womb on screen for the second time that day, a very positive, childless technician assured me that everything was indeed present, that it all looked fine, and suggested that I had probably just miscalculated my dates.  She said I had a normal six week old fetus.

As much as I struggled to believe her and somehow rearrange what I knew to be the truth, I knew. I knew six weeks was not reasonably possible.  I knew she was wrong.  I knew something was wrong and I knew it was not my dates.  Still, reasoning that God can make the dead alive, I prayed that he would do just that.  I prayed and was prayed for over the week I waited for the next ultrasound.

I arrived expecting the worst and hoping for a miracle.  I watched each measurement with acute intensity.  “Is that the baby?” asked my husband.  I knew it was.  But, silence.  No reply at all from the technician.  I knew it was the baby, I knew there was no heartbeat, and I knew she was neither permitted nor comfortable saying it definitively without consulting the doctor.  But I knew.  She knew.  We all knew.  The silence told the tale without a word.

People tell you a lot of things when they want to help.  Their words are kind and encouraging, generally, but there are other things heard that speak much louder.

The doctor’s voice cancelling my preliminary blood work was louder.  The failure of my husband to continue announcing my obvious pregnancy to people we saw in public was louder.  The cessation of conversations about baby names and future family scenarios was louder.  The silence of the second technician was louder.  The spontaneous dialogue about what will happen if we lose the baby spurred by the passing of a large hospital was louder.  The voice of my gleeful seven year-old skipping down the fishing pier the day after I miscarried saying, “Look!  It’s just the five of us!” because she did not know and was counting the baby was louder.  The confusion of my nine year-old as she picked up the brand new addition to our window cling stick figure family that I bought the week before and never placed was louder.  The feeling that I shouldn’t leave the beach and go back home because I left my youngest baby there alone was louder.

The louder things lie waiting, revealing the truth.  They are the sounds that one hears somewhere between grief and grey matter; between fall out and faith; between denial and acceptance.

Maybe that’s why most who miscarry do not speak much about it.  Maybe they don’t have to.  The louder things speak for themselves.

He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” ~2 Samuel 12:22-23

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jersey

Football.  Freedom.  A fan base who fiercely worship both.

These are the gods of our fathers, friends.  But what happens when the gods war?  What happens when what we have made into our masters find themselves fighting against one another?

This is the real issue behind the issue of Colin Kaepernick’s publicity.  I am not here to talk about my personal opinions on his actions or the reasons behind them.  That’s not my arena.  I am here to talk about ours – we Americans who always worship and hate the wrong things and fail to realize who the true God really is.

For that, we must go back.  Think Salem witch hunts; the Spanish Inquisition; the Crusades; Constantine.  These events all have a common thread.  The theme here is misguided zeal on the part of those who would see the masses convert and conform to their ideas and standards of right, wrong, and religion.  Anyone remember what the mob mentality does to those opposed?  Death by decision.  Each of these groups made the mistake of worshiping their own agendas in place of worshiping the One and Only True God.  Not only that, they did so at the expense of those who would not conform to those agendas.  It makes absolutely no difference whether the ideas they were married to and promoting were inherently right or wrong.  The fact that they insisted upon the whole of the world following lest they be publicly humiliated, severely punished, and/or purposefully put to death through intimidation, fear mongering, and forced assimilation of all bystanders by the worshipers of these gods of their own making.

That brings us even farther back.  There was a time when a man came and taught us what to do in this very situation.  His name was Jesus and I happen to believe he knew what he was talking about.

In John chapter 8, Jesus is speaking to his very own people – the Jews.  He is trying to tell them how to be set free.  Surprisingly, it is not through control, forced obedience, mob mentality, public shaming of dissenters, or pointing at their ancestry.  Funny, those are all the things the Jews sought to do when he suggested that they were not yet free, but slaves.  Those are the things they had been doing since Jesus showed up due to their own fear of losing position, power, and authority over other people.  Those are the things we are doing when our false gods fail to deliver and begin to war against one another.  Case in point – Colin’s public statement.

Fortunately, Jesus had the answer for this deeply troubling, spiritual problem.  His advice when we find ourselves enslaved by sin – NOT social injustice or unpatriotic demigods – but SIN was this:

“…If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus goes on to correct them.  He tells them who they really are -Satan’s children – not God’s – and he tells them who he really is – God come down from heaven.  He shows them how severe those realities truly are in comparison to the petty nonsense they are fighting over.  Jesus desperately wants them to wake up, repent, and begin valuing the things that God values in place of their own selfish agendas.

Unfortunately the Jews did not listen.  Instead, they accuse Jesus of being demonic and continue to hate him with all their hearts.  They keep right on claiming their elite status, their right to rule, and their arrogant authority over, yes, even God himself as he stands before their very eyes in the flesh.

Fellow Americans, what will you do when the football gods fail to deliver the control you seek?  What will you do when they disagree with your doctrine?  When they stop agreeing with your ideas, your agendas, and the false gods of your fathers?  Do you think perhaps God could use a man-made god to send men in need a startling message?  I don’t know for sure but I do know what to do when true freedom is our end goal.  It is this:

“…If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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