Saturday, February 16, 2013

To tell the truth...

Five of them.

That's how many drafts of incomplete stories from just the last 30 days sit unpublished.

At the end of a day like today, what could I possibly write?

A dear friend, a much wiser and mature Christian friend told me (and I paraphrase) "Sometimes, if I told the truth, about what I felt and what I did, people would seriously be calling me, wondering about my faith, and questioning my sanity, and surely questioning my ability to be a wife, a mother, and a spiritual leader."

The truth is, I don't want to tell the truth.  I'm okay with telling some of the story, but honestly, I don't want anyone to know the whole truth.  I want to hide away the hurt, hide away the mistakes, the pain, the words, the drama, the big fat mess that my life really is.

I read a lot, and I think a lot.  I've been thinking about the Psalms.  Thinking about the different Psalms.  The ones about pain and hurt, the ones about happiness, about joy, about redemption and peace.  There are Psalms about anxiety, Psalms about love, discouragement, awe, delight and fear.  What a mix of emotions.  What emotional people we really are.  What an emotional person I really am. 

The truth is, I am a bunch of emotions.  To say today was only all about joy and that I was thankful and full, happy and in awe of the gifts and grace my Father bestows upon me would really be a lie.  Ask some of the people who witnessed the anger and frustration of my day.  And yet, today, the same day I received a letter in the mail from my grandma filled with words of happiness and history and pain and sorrow... an excerpt...

"You are a kind granddaughter, never to be forgotten...  Since my husband is deceased, he can't remember me...I remember the times we talked at night...Memories are great."
All of the thoughts that overflow.  And the irony is, my grandma has Alzheimer's and when I read the words, I wonder.... will she always remember me?  30-some years later does she miss her husband?  Is there still pain and loss?  I do remember the fun times shared with my grandma.  Doing puzzles, and eating fish-sticks,  really- great memories. Memories that DO make me happy.  How can it be?  All these feelings in just one card, a couple words on a page....
I do not know what the future holds.  I don't know exactly if these thoughts, so conflicting, will always rage war in my mind.  Today they do.
I fight battles with and for my children.  I think all parents fight battles for and with their children.  Some battles that I fight, I fight because some of my children have been adopted.  Not all parents who adopt fight these same battles.  Not all parents have children who struggle the same.  But some of my hardest battles are because my children come from a broken past.  I firmly believe the enemy, Satan, would love to claim the lives of my children, and from where he was sitting, my children, sitting in an orphanage, with no parents, little food, little clothing, no one to share with them the love of Jesus, no one to advocate on their behalf, no one.... I believe it had to look good, in Satan's favor.  I can't imagine he's happy they are here.  I can't imagine he's delighted that they hear about Jesus every day.  I can't imagine he's happy they have a mom and dad to forever love them, and forever point them to Jesus in any and every way possible.  I fight battles.  I grow weary. 
I fight and win battles with Christ.  We make progress. We fight to claim our children, as OURS, as orphans no more.  We fight to erase what they have been taught.  We fight to make them believe they are OURS.  We make progress, we make so much progress.  God is so gracious, so faithful, so beautiful and loving towards us.  We are in awe daily of how HE grows us, changes us, and changes and uses us and our children.
Yet, somehow, amidst all the joy, all the change, all the growth, hurt and defeat creep in.  I am amazed though, at what I have found to "kill" me the most.  It's the everyone else. 
There are two (okay three... after typing, I had to add another...oops...seriously...   I now have four.... I have a problem, admittedly I do)  practical conclusions that I have arrived at this evening. 
1.  Antarctica is cold. Africa is hot.  But... do the people in Africa have any understanding of being cold like the people (if there were ones) in Antarctica?  Do the people (if there were ones) in Antarctica have any understanding of being hot, like the people in Africa?  The point really is, there is something that I very much lack in understanding regarding the things, I have no experience with.  I do not know what it is like to be a widow.  I do not know what it is like to loose a parent.  I don't know what divorce is like.  I don't know about LOTS of things.  I have been hurt many times, too many times, by the ones I love, because I am in Antarctica, and they are in Africa.  Neither hot nor cold is any better or worse in theory.  Yet, because we have and deal with "issues" related to things some have not experienced, it seems a perfect breeding ground for things like anger, frustration, condemnation, and mostly judgement to pop up.
2.  I am just as guilty.  I have compassion so much for the new mom with a new baby that doesn't stop crying.  I want to love on the parents who have just arrived home with their newly adopted child.  I want to help the marriages that fight to be set apart from what the world deems as a "healthy marriage".  I have understanding and grace to extend to almost everyone who has experienced any experience that I have personally experienced.  That's it.  Single moms.... probably not on my radar.  Widows, cancer patients, divorcees.... I don't know about that... so I find myself lacking grace, lacking compassion, and surely saying words that hurt, words that cut, actions that at the end of the day, make those whom I've sinned against feel weary and defeated. 
3.  I fail to obey and conform to Christ's character.  I have put the recognition and acceptance of other's in the place of Jesus.  In other words, instead of looking to Christ to fill me, making me feel complete and accepted, I have put something else in His place.  I need the gospel.  Every. Single. Day.  It is only in going back to the gospel, going back to what Christ did for me on the cross, that I can be gripped by the reality of what He did for me and who I am in Him.  (awesome article on the subject, taken from here)
4.  I have to believe that God has delivered everything I need in the person and work of Jesus.  I have to believe that God's love is a one way love.  His love for me is unconditional.  In Christ, I have all the love, affection and worth I need, based on the person and work of Jesus. All that I tend to seek and need in less places (the acceptance and love of other, friends, family, etc) I have in Jesus.  In Christ, my deepest needs are met. I have found that when I am most resistant to love others, and serve others it is because I am afraid that I may not be loved or served back.  But, the gospel OBLITERATES that fear.  IN CHRIST MY DEEPEST NEEDS ARE MET.  That sets me free!
As the clock nears 1:30 am and my thoughts have gone full circle.  I rest in these thoughts.  Pain will happen, weakness will happen, insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties.... they are all gonna happen.  People will hurt me, the ones I love will hurt me.  But, His grace - the gospel-  the finished work of Jesus on the cross is sufficient, is enough, is completely, 100% everything I need.  The more I focus on the cross, the more I see that a loving and perfect God, whom while I was still a sinner, died for me and wiped the slate clean, took away my sins, made me white as snow.... Redeemed me and has called me His daughter, the more I focus on that, the more He IS everything I need. 
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:7-10