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Category Archives: Music

Is There Life Out There?

“I don’t need any more accidents in my life.” (From the video above).

That just resonates within.

I really don’t need any more accidents—any more tragedies in this life.

And the partial lyrics below resonate as well in the aftermath of death and this pilgrimage we are taking through degenerative disease.

IS THERE LIFE OUT THERE - Reba McEntire

". . . 
But now she's wonderin' 
What she's living for 
. . . 
She's dyin' to try something foolish 
Do something crazy 
Or just get away 
. . . 
There's a place in the sun that she's never been 
Where life is fair and time is a friend 
Would she do it the same as she did back then 
She looks out the window and wonders again 

Chorus 

Is there life out there 
So much she hasn't done 
Is there life beyond Her family and her home 
She's done what she should 
Should she do what she dares 
She doesn't want to leave 
She just wonders
if there's life out there

I’m still wondering what my purpose is.

And doing something foolish or crazy or getting away from all that’s gone before—all that’s yet to come? I can’t even imagine what that would feel like.

I would do the same as I did before, and I don’t want to leave.

I just wonder if there really is a place in the sun—if there is something more in THIS world—something that doesn’t hurt out there. . .

For me.

And I wonder if other bereaved parents, other special needs parents, want to know that too.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Links, Music

 

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Birthday Reflections – Guilt & Shame

 

il_570xN.838650199_lubbToday is my one and only son’s birthday. If you read my Father’s Day post you know that he was, in the terminology of the latest trend, born still – a cord death. Cole did not die on the day of his birth. I always knew that. David and I were drawn to the hospital because I quit feeling him move. But even I didn’t originally know when he died.

I’m not sure how long after his death it was that I discovered exactly when he died, but it was an innocent comment made by my mother that truly rocked my world.

She was in my home and all she said was, “I remember you telling me that the baby was moving really funny.” Those words triggered that movie-like effect, you know the one where past events scroll by the screen at warp speed and a replay begins of that exact moment in the character’s past. And I was instantly transported back . . . There I stood in my parent’s living room in front of their green velvet love seat. It was about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 18th. I can see it in my mind’s eye looking on as if I was standing mere feet away from my extremely pregnant self.

I’d driven there after work in order to bring my mom some fabric which she was to sew into a balloon shade for the baby room David and I had set up in our home. It was a simple blue and white pinstripe and matched the Paddington Bear pattern of the bedding we’d selected. And then I said it, “Mom, the baby’s moving really funny.” It echoes through my mind even 24 years later. My mother replied, “Why don’t you lay down and maybe it will stop in a moment.” Cringe worthy advice looking back, for indeed the strange movements I felt did indeed stop shortly thereafter. And only in hindsight, only when my Mother spoke those innocent words after my only child (at the time) was long buried, did I realize the significance of those words that began, “I remember you saying . . . ”

Unbeknownst to my Mother, she filled in the blanks and devastated me all with one simple sentence. It was at that very moment, now standing in my own living room in which I realized for the very first time that I not only knew exactly when my child died but that I did nothing – NOTHING! – NOT ONE DAMN THING! – to save him. It was in that instant that I could finally find words to describe the strange way my son was moving within my womb. Thrashing. That is the only word that accurately describes those strange, unnamed movements.

FullSizeRender (15)I knew with certainty then that I had felt my child dying; thrashing as the cord that was wrapped around his arm pulled tight around his throat and he fought life. And that devastating moment began the completely irrational guilt/shame cycle I struggled to overcome for years in spite of knowing full well from an intellectual standpoint that had I known what was happening, I would not have been able to save him. There was no way to get to the hospital, to have my son delivered, before his death. No possible way.

But guilt and shame are all too common experiences in the parent loss community. Far too common. We kick ourselves for what we perceive as poor choices in spite of the fact that there was no earthly way of knowing what was to come and therefore, intervening in the unacceptable destiny about to play out in our children’s lives. Instead, we beat ourselves up and ask ourselves, “What kind of parent/mother/father am I?” And the only possible internal answer is, of course, “A bad one”.

But we all need someone to blame, someone to be held accountable, and for many broken believers, the heart simply cannot handle even the thought that our child’s death may have been part of God’s plan – let alone His will. It is far easier to blame ourselves than to rock the very foundations upon which our belief in a loving God resides. Not that we are any more capable of preventing that either. When a large part of your world is destroyed the impact is insidiously complete as wave upon wave of grief batters the broken heart.

Just as few people knew that I felt my one and only son, my firstborn child, strangle to death within the ironically protective environment of my womb, few people realize that we debated the trip to Kansas City for Christmas the year my oldest and youngest daughters died.

Bethany, my oldest daughter, had so much going on in the days prior to her death.  Tons of angst over school and changes in living arrangements she wanted to make, finances, and Alex, her boyfriend’s uncertain return to UCA.  Her life was in complete turmoil and I was helpless to make it better for her. It seemed what might be best for Bethany would be for us to stay home in Bentonville that Christmas, but that was not what was best for the rest of the family and not best for O’rane (the international student spending the holiday with us). Still, I took her aside a day or two before we left for KC and asked her if she would prefer to stay home.  I would have chosen to remain in NW Arkansas if that would have made her more comfortable.  No one else would have been too keen on that plan, but I had every intention of honoring her wishes had she indicated that she would prefer to stay home.

What I wouldn’t give to have simply stayed home.

I’m considerably older and a bit wiser than I was 24 years ago, but those old demons of guilt and shame have still plagued my days in the aftermath of Bethany & Katie’s deaths. Despite that fact that I had no power whatsoever to prevent any of the tragic circumstances of my life the broken heart is laid bare and vulnerable to the fiery arrows Satan takes such delight in unloading upon the weak.

Maybe just revealing that truth will help another broken-hearted parent caught in the guilt and shame cycle put to rest the irrational personal judgments they have leveled against themselves or a spouse. Maybe it will enable them to see that what the scriptures say is true – that Satan is a thief and a liar bent on our destruction and there is no limit to the devices he will employ to do just that.

Maybe the disclosure of my illogical feelings will enable another parent to make peace with the equally truthful scriptural revelation that our days are numbered prior to our birth; it was never in our power to extend the lives of our children, regardless of the circumstances of their death. There are simply things in this life that are pre-ordained and while that can be a devastating truth it can also be a great comfort, because aside from parents who with knowledge took the lives of their own children; the vast majority of parents have consistently acted in the best interest of their children. And with grace, those whose actions result in godly conviction (i.e., not undeserved guilt) there is repentance, forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation through faith in Christ Jesus.

The road is long and dark – but grief embraced, worked through (not short-circuited by positive thinking) – can find health and healing.

Oh, you never forget. And there never comes a day when the death of your child is justified by spiritual growth or ministry. Those things are just the result of God taking a bad thing and performing a work of redemption not somehow transforming that bad thing into a good thing. God brings good from Satan’s evil actions and intentions, He doesn’t justify Satan’s evil actions and intentions. That’s a very fine distinction, but an extremely important one nonetheless.  All things work together for good, not all things are made good.

So while this day is filled with bitter longing and remembrance it is also a day in which I know I can trust that this is not the end of the story. This Kenny Chesney song, “Who You’d Be Today” is reflective of that intense longing and bitter disappointment I feel. But it also reminds me that one day I will know who each of my children would have been because I will see them again. I will know them and they will know me in perfection, the way we were created to be before the fall of man. We will be like Him – the one who sacrificed His life and endured for the joy set before Him.

“Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney

And the lyrics to “Held” by Natalie Grant remind me of the things God did not promise me — but also that He has promised to hold me through all the bitterness this life brings. “Can I not wait, for one hour (albeit a very long hour), watching for my Savior? (Paraphrased)”  Partial lyrics can be found beneath the youtube link.

“Held” by Natalie Grant

Partial lyrics, “Held” by Natalie Grant:

IMG_1111“This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held

If hope if born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior”

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Grief, Music

 

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Fixing Me – flannelgraphs

 

This post from Flannelgraphs reminds me of an old Roberta Flack song, “Killing Me Softly with His Song”. Below are the lyrics and a link to the original soundtrack from 1973 on YouTube.

“Killing Me Softly With His Song”

[Chorus]

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

[Chorus]

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

[Chorus]

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn’t there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

 

Don’t skip the video — the lyrics alone don’t do the song justice and Ms. Flack sings it so beautifully!  “Killing Me Softly With His Song”.

Not all the lyrics express my feelings, but the idea that a stranger could so clearly speak the heart of another certainly fits.

Caitlin, the author of “Fixing Me”, shares her heart, story and faith with humility and eloquence. A teaser for the article follows.  I hope you will take the time to click on the link highlighted in red below!

fixing-me-living-by-faith-not-sight

 

 

“What do you do when you’re angry with the Creator of the universe and the Lover of your soul?  When you’re incredibly disappointed in your Redeemer and feel as though He can’t be trusted with the things, the people you treasure most?  What does a professing believer do with that depth of confusion and spiritual chaos? . . .”

Source: Fixing Me – flannelgraphs – Dealing with faith and finding healing in the depths of loss.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Faith, Grief, Links, Music

 

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Riser

FEAR

I’m not always a riser, but that’s who I want to be for Gracen and David and I’m glad God is the ultimate Riser for me.

Check out these lyrics – not sure they are completely correct (picked them up off the internet and added my own corrections) so forgive me if I messed them up. I think they are pretty close anyway and don’t they reflect what we all aspire to be for those we love in their darkest hours? Beautiful song!


 

Dierks Bentley – Riser

Lay your pretty head down on my shoulder
You don’t have to worry anymore
This old world is cold and getting colder
And I know how to lock and bolt the door
I’m strong enough to hold you through the winter
Mean enough to stare your demons down
The hard times put the shine into the diamond
I won’t let that keep us in the ground
I’m a riser
I’m a get up off the ground, don’t run and hider
Pushin’ comes to shovin’
Hey I’m a fighter
When darkness comes to town, I’m a lighter
A get out aliver, out of the fire
Survivor
If you we ain’t got no money I can make it
I ain’t afraid of working to the bone
When I don’t know what I’m doin’ and I can’t fake it
I’ll pray till Jesus rolls away the stone
And I’m a riser
I’m a get up off the ground, don’t run and hider
Pushin’ comes to shovin’
Hey I’m a fighter
When darkness comes to town, I’m a lighter
A get out aliver, of the fire, survivor
I’m a trier
I’m a get down low so I can lift you higher
An army couldn’t keep down my desire
Yeah
I’m a riser
I’m a get up off the ground, don’t run and hider
Hey pushin’ comes to shovin’
Baby I’m a fighter
When darkness comes to town, I’m a lighter
A get out aliver, of the fire, survivor
I’m a riser
I’m a riser
I’m a riser

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Adversity, Links, Music

 

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My Consolation in Sorrow

iStock_000019848651_Medium-600x400When you lose a loved one to death, you quickly recognize that a great number of people sympathize, even empathize (vicariously experience) with your loss. Close friends and family grieve with you because they lost a friend, a brother, a parent or grandchild too. Some simply grieve for you because they love you but were not personally connected to the one who died. But very few people actually grieve in like manner with you. Even parents experience grief in unique ways. Men often process their sorrow and loss far differently than women do.

I have been blessed by numerous friends and family who have grieved both with me and for me, but none grieved as I. No one grieved as “the mother” with the obliterated heart. None but one. None but one. And I count that one woman as one of my greatest blessings in the midst of all this heartache.

10492559_10152550256319610_3231914152675065142_nHer name is Teresa and I never would have guessed just what she would come to mean to me. (Pictured left, Teresa and her husband, Jakob).

Frankly, I didn’t know Teresa well when my daughters died. I knew who she was, we’d spoken briefly, she is the mother of the young man my oldest daughter had been dating for two and a half years.

 

Teresa, her sister and her son, Alex, stepped in and met practical needs for us following the accident that took Bethany and Katie’s lives. David and I were tied up at the hospital – not wanting to leave the side of our surviving daughter. Teresa and Alex took on the arduous task of purchasing burial garb for both girls. I never saw what they choose but was told Alex had insisted on a scarf in Bethany’s favorite color, pink. They also retrieved all Bethany’s worldly goods from her campus apartment and delivered them to our home. But none of those things explains why Teresa is so special to me.

10525854_805830962812159_8008800412709942090_nAt the time of Bethany’s death, Teresa and her family were living in Sweden. The family moved back to the states approximately six months after the funeral. Her family met us for lunch shortly after their move. I had no idea what to expect and I was a bit nervous. They had been so kind, so generous. Their daughter Emma had written and performed a beautiful song for which her father, Jakob, created a photo montage (Bethany’s Song). Emma also painted a treasured picture of Bethany that hangs in our living room. But in spite of all that, I didn’t know them well but I was aware that they didn’t share the faith that had become so interwoven into my very being. I was afraid my faith would be offensive to them and maybe even afraid that they could find the chink in my spiritual armor and open Pandora’s box in the midst of my suffering. I knew I was vulnerable.

It was at that lunch in an extremely crowded Freddie’s that I discover the blessing that is Teresa. She is God’s gift to me from an entirely selfish perspective. Let me say that Teresa is a wonderful woman in an absolutely average way; the way most women are. They work jobs, raise children, care for their homes and support their husbands.  They don’t live in the spotlight but they are the glue, the strength and the heart of their homes. They are good friends, and contribute to their communities, largely behind the scenes. They are the heart and soul of this world far more than any politician, famous actor, musician or celebrity. Teresa is just such a woman – the world is filled with such talented, everyday but far from average women who make a difference in their small corner of the world. But what makes Teresa so special to me had little to do with any of those things either.

What I discovered about Teresa in that crowded fast food restaurant, what makes her so special to me, what sets her apart as a gift that could have only come from God is only one thing. Teresa loved Bethany with a mother’s heart. Not like a mother, but as if she had adopted Bethany as her own child. Teresa expressed grief that day that mirrored my own. I have not encountered one other person whose feelings and grief over Bethany’s or Katie’s deaths so closely reflected my own.

In the months that followed, Teresa and I got together many times. Over and over she expressed feelings so very similar to mine. The last time we got together, I told her that I find myself embarrassed because people always ask me how Gracen is doing. They always tell me that they are praying for her. And while I am so thankful for that, there is this quiet voice within that wonders if no one cares about how I’m doing, that wonders if anyone is praying for me. I feel selfish. And I feel as if everyone expects me, or David and I, to be finished grieving – to be moving forward.

Teresa confided in me that day that her friends and family also ask how her son is doing; not how she is doing. She too feels as if people expect her to be beyond her grief. What she’s really communicating is that others knew and expected Alex to grieve deeply, but didn’t expect Teresa to grieve as deeply as her son. They understood Alex’s close relationship with Bethany – his grief was expected, but they didn’t realize the depth of the relationship Teresa had developed with Bethany as well. Her grief was unexpected because her love for Bethany was outside the norm of parent relationships with their children’s girlfriends or boyfriends.

In part, Teresa is a treasure because she validates the progression (or lack thereof) of my grief journey. She makes me feel normal in the midst of my personal nightmare. But most of all Teresa is a blessing because her grief is mine. She loved my daughter to such a degree that her heart is as broken as mine.

Bethany was a fortunate beneficiary of Teresa’s love in life and I’ve been the beneficiary of her grief. I’ve benefited by the knowledge of how deeply Teresa loved my girl – I’ve benefited by the gift of someone to share the depths of my loss – to know I’m not alone in my deepest sorrow. I’ve benefited by the friendship she’s bestowed upon me.

While I would never wish my pain and sorrow on another, I can’t begin to describe the ways in which Teresa’s grief has been a consolation for me. There are so many ways in which words meant to comfort unintentionally diminish the value of the loved one lost. Teresa, added value to Bethany’s life and memory. That is why Teresa is such a special blessing to my aching heart.

Thank you, Teresa, for loving my girl and for freely sharing your grief with me.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in Grief, Links, Music

 

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To Love is to be Vulnerable – C.S. Lewis

 

1 John 4:16b “God is love”

Ever considered that God’s heart is just as vulnerable as ours are?

Partial lyrics:
“Love, how many times can a heart break?
Love, how much weight can a soul take?
Love, I don’t know where you ran off to
But love, love, love, I still believe in you.
Yeah, I still believe in you.
I still believe that you’ll come knocking on my door
When I least expect you to
You give me something I can hold
You pull me through, cuz that’s what you do,
That’s what you do love
Yeah, that’s what you do love”

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2016 in Faith, Links, Music

 

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Conversations with Melanie – Part 1

Conversations with Melanie – Part 1

A fellow bereaved parent and blogger, Melanie, recently sent me the following question in regards to “Uncovering Unknown Issues of the Heart,  which I posted several months ago, “Janet, do you still have this struggle between needing to “feel” God and intellectually accepting truth about Him?”

 

It might help if you read the article first, but it’s certainly not necessary.

Uncovering Unknown Issues of the Heart

I think this is one of those seriously painful issues every Christian entertains when the bottom of their world drops out.  And I am a painfully average Christian!  My answer to Melanie’s question follows; although I’ve edited it, corrected misspelled words, etc., and as any true writer is prone to do, added to and reworded parts of it.

Yes, I still struggle with feeling God’s love for me as opposed to just believing He loves me. I am no longer desperate to feel His love – some of that is due to pharmaceutical help and some of it’s due to the inability to maintain that kind of emotional energy over an extended period of time.  But, yes, I still struggle to feel God’s love.  However, my perspective has changed a bit in the last few months.

Just as I love my husband and daughter, I realize that I don’t always “feel” a rush of love for them every time I see them. And as you no doubt have experienced yourself with your own families, sometimes how I do feel is less than loving. Life happens. Petty frustrations and unmet expectations result in less than loving feelings, but when their safety is threatened, or someone harms them emotionally, my response is clearly indicative of intense and passionate love for them.

There are times you tell your children “no” and they just can’t understand why. Somehow, this child that you labored over, nursed and nourished, clothed and nurtured, still doubts that you have their best interest at heart.  Instead they think you don’t trust them or don’t want them to have fun. Their minds are so clouded by what they want that they can’t comprehend a reasonable and logical argument explaining the reasoning behind your response.  In most instances, the conversation deteriorates from that point on as anger and attitude surface.   I, then, find myself frustrated and sometimes resentful for being perceived as the bad guy. Parenting is hard.

As embarrassing as this is to admit, I think I respond the exact same way my children do when God says no or closes a door – not that His response to my reaction is frustration and resentment.  But honestly, just like my children, I want what I want when I want it, how I want it, and I don’t want anyone telling me that what I want isn’t best for me.

Just the other day I asked myself exactly what I expect God to do to make me “feel” His love?

I can’t make my husband feel happy or sad or loved at will. I can try but some days, for whatever reason, the things that normally make him laugh or feel loved just don’t result in the usual emotional response. Emotions are a response to some stimuli. It’s pretty unreasonable of me to demand that God provide that stimuli on demand, but isn’t that what I’ve been trying to do? Even if He did, some days it just wouldn’t work. I’d be too distracted, afraid, or whatever for that stimuli to generate the hoped for response.  C.S. Lewis said in A Grief Observed, “The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”  Could it be that in my desperation to “feel” God’s love, I can’t quiet myself enough to hear His still small voice?

Woman Unwrapping a GiftI think I’m starting to understand that the only thing I can do is ask God to help me recognize and experience His love for me. I can ask God to help me not only accept His love, like a gift wrapped package and to receive it by opening the gift but also to open my heart so I value the gift as it was intended.  And that last point is critical.  Have you ever received a gift and been disappointed because it wasn’t what you hoped for or maybe you wondered, “What am I supposed to do with this?”  In order to grasp God’s love and care I need to be able to comprehend and fully appreciate the value of the gift given.  Sometimes it’s only in retrospect that we understand and appreciate a gift.

If I can’t learn to recognize God’s loving overtures or become increasingly confident His love for me regardless of how I feel, I can imagine only two possible ways God might satisfy my demand to make me feel His love.  One, I can surrender myself to become a robot in His hand, which He never wanted, hence the gift/curse of free will, or two, I can require God to answer to me (which is absurd but bear with me a minute).   This is how that idea might play out:  Janet needs to feel love, therefore God needs to give Janet ‘xyz’ or ‘abc’ to stimulate the feeling of love she “needs” to feel.  In this way, I, Janet, the creation am dictating to my creator, God, how to satisfy me. It’s not only presumptuous but you can fast forward to the logical conclusion that all God would succeed in doing is creating a spoiled, entitled and demanding child who felt no love for Him in return because a demand/fulfillment or demand/resentment cycle would have quickly been established.  An entirely unsatisfying relationship, I dare say, based solely upon manipulation.

There’s a dynamic in a relationship with an unseen God that simply doesn’t exist in any other relationship I’ve ever been part of.  That dynamic is, of course, the fact that I can’t see or touch God Almighty.  My relationship with Him requires far more faith and trust than any earthly relationship I will ever have.  To put that in perspective allow me to use a human relationship to make a point.

I’ve been married to my husband, David, for twenty-eight years.  I see, touch and speak to him every day.  I love my husband and I know he loves me.  Even so, relationships ebb and flow.  There are periods of time in which we are emotionally closer than others.  In the twenty-eight years we’ve been married have I ever doubted my husbands love for me?  Yes, more than once in fact.  If I can see, touch and speak to this man every day and still manage to suffer through periods of time where I can’t feel his love for me, in spite of the fact that he is a good man with a servant’s heart, why should I be surprised that I can’t always feel God’s love for me?  Why should I expect to feel God’s love for me all the time?

falling-in-love-with-same-personI guess I’m concluding that I need to humble myself and ask Him to help me experience the love I know, without a doubt, He has for me.  I also need His help receiving His love because there is no earthly relationship that truly offers completely unconditional love and acceptance.   I have experienced my parents and husband’s attempts to love me unconditionally, however, their example, will always fall short. We’re human, we all have expectations and unfortunately those expectations color our interaction with others either through spoken word or subtle body language, attitudes and actions. Only God offers unconditional love.

I need to realize that all my earthly experience with love has been flawed.  I don’t have a pure worldly example of what true unconditional love looks like.  So how can I possibly compare the way I perceive God’s love for me and decide if it measures up?   Personal experience has taught me that at some point, in some way, love will let me down.  Unfortunately, I think life has taught me to expect that God will let me down too, and sometimes my circumstances seem to scream that He has.  It’s not true but people see what they expect to see, myself included.  And perception and reality are often two very different things.  The problem is that we can’t always recognize the difference.

Christians encounter so many different situations but regardless of the specific stressor many of the same emotional responses are generated and our response to those emotions is complicated by our faith and trying to lean on and trust God while simultaneously dealing with feelings of abandonment and betrayal or as if in the grand scheme of things His plans supersede our individual value to Him.  It often feels as if we are but pawns in the pursuit of the lost, and that the wounds we suffer along the way are somehow acceptable, unintended consequences.  I think we feel that way because that’s what we actually see played out before our eyes in the world around us – it’s how humans act, but not how God acts.  I swear the hardest part of grieving is trying to reconcile my real world experience with God because He is holy and we have no visible representation of what holy really looks like when played out on the world’s stage.

This I do know because the Bible says it’s true, we are not expendable or deemed more or less valuable than any other Saint or sinner in God’s eyes.  He does not operate on the philosophy that the ends justify the means.  The Bible clearly states that God is love – everything about who He is and how He works is the living embodiment of love.

God-is-love

1_corinthians_13_4_8_by_yods-d4r0d511 Corinthians 13 tells us exactly what that looks like.  You can substitute “God” or a personal pronoun for love in those verses and it reads something like this:  God is patient and kind.  He is not proud, rude or self-serving.  He is not easily angered.  He does not delight in evil [as the wicked do].  God always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. God never fails. 

Since we only see glimpses of God’s innate character (displayed through lives being transformed (sanctified) by the Holy Spirit in fellow believers) and never see a fully sanctified believer we are tempted to believe that God behaves like humans do.  It is a struggle to see Him filtered through the words on the pages of our Bibles.  But even as Satan whispers his lies, your fear-filled heart is wrestling to cling to your faith in spite of and also because of your circumstances and you, like everyone else, become all too aware of your brokenness, exhaustion and most of all your absolute ineptitude.  It’s frustrating, horrifying, discouraging and frightening and we all end up doubting and questioning because God made us insufficient in our own power.  And all those feeling are magnified by the knowledge that His ways are not our ways and that sometimes He allows the absolute unacceptable in our lives and we are terrified of that possibility, especially if we’ve experienced it in the past.

Ultimately, it’s clear that my desperate desire to feel God’s love on demand was in fact an unrealistic expectation.  God’s plan is best.  I don’t want to be a robot and He doesn’t want to control me.  He wants me to choose to love Him just as He choose to love me.  I want a mature love relationship with Him not the relationship of a temperamental toddler and an adult.   In moments of desperation, I need to quiet myself, or in the event that I can’t manage that in my own efforts, allow God to quiet me, so that I can actually hear His voice speaking to me, reassuring me of not only His presence, but of His unfailing love as well.   I also need to remind myself that just as my human emotions for others ebb and flow, my ability to feel God’s love will do the same.  It’s not reasonable to feel that heady kind of infatuation for or from God every moment of every day.

images (11)Furthermore, I must remember that because I have no plainly visible example of pure unconditional love, only God’s Word and the Holy Spirit can help me recognize and comprehend the reality of His unfailing love. God does not love me like anyone else loves me.  He loves me better than anyone else has ever loved me and ever will love me.  And yes, because I can’t see and touch God here on earth, I have to discipline myself to trust that what His word says is true, that He does love me with an everlasting love.  Love is commitment and love is an emotional response to stimuli.  When I can’t feel that emotional response I have to have faith that God’s commitment to love me will not fail me.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Faith, Grief, Links, Music

 

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