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Inspirational Faith? 

I’ve struggled with how to respond when someone refers to my faith as inspirational. I see the wrestling and failures, and my emotions cloud the view of any resulting good. Often, I don’t even want to see anything good. Recognizing good feels as if it justifies the deaths of my daughters and Gracen’s disease and honestly, that’s just offensive to my humanity. I’m doing well to put one foot in front of the other. I don’t see anything inspirational in my faith walk.

Believe me, anything worthy of praise is not my doing—at all.

And that’s not false modesty or veiled pride.

It’s ugly in here!

scroll816Like the Apostle Paul, I do the things I know I shouldn’t and don’t do the things I know I should. I guess we all do . . . and I guess that’s why the Bible tells us that God’s strength is perfected in our weakness.

The Holy Spirit is somehow displayed through our brokenness; not the perfectionism we strive for.

The girls’s deaths and Gracen’s disease have done one thing for me; they’ve confirmed my faith.

I did not realize how much faith in Jesus Christ had come to define me.

When we feel as if God has failed us or calls something we disagree with sinful or simply behaves in ways we cannot understand and do not want to accept, we can experience what’s known as a crisis of faith. We must decide what we really believe about God. We have to decide to continue to follow Him or walk away from Jesus.

In John chapter 6 Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Bread of Life which caused many of His followers to abandon Him. In verse 67b Jesus asked His twelve disciples:

“. . . “Do you want to leave too?””

And in verses 68-69:

“Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.””

Where else can I go?

There is nowhere.

There is none other.

Without Christ; I’d still be living with the same circumstances but I’d be completely without hope.

No hope for reunion.

No hope for redemption.

No hope for anything beyond this life.

And if I live well (as some define living well)—a positive outlook—a life of happiness and joy—it’s not enough to offset the tragedies that I, and countless others endure, in the absence of the hope that lies within.

Living well, as defined by others, is not enough.

longingformoreWe always find ourselves empty and longing without the Lord.

If living well were enough the rich and famous would not find themselves lonely, depressed and wanting more . . .

needing relationship. . .

needing relationships beyond that of a spouse, family, and adoring fans.

Money can’t buy love and love can’t buy happiness.

Ask anyone who has either—or both.

That’s why the rich young ruler came to Jesus: He just didn’t understand, or really, simply refused to accept, that he needed Jesus Himself instead of some quick and easy solution for the emptiness within. And we’re all looking for quick and easy solutions to life’s problems and longings.

But . . .

Even when we have Jesus we are left longing.

I can almost hear the gasps—the harshly in-drawn breaths—following the reading of that last statement.

But it’s true.

It’s true.

Even with Jesus we long for more.

We long for the fulfillment of His promises—for completion—to be made like Him.

We long for restoration and redemption—to be all we were created to be unsoiled by sin.

We long to live in harmony and unity in a world of pure motivations and unconditional love.

We long for a life free of suffering, sorrow, tears, fears, problems and parting.

We long for reunion.

We long for Heaven!

We’re just not very good at distilling our desires down to the underlying longings and we chase our tails looking for fulfillment to desires we are unable to define. But Jesus is our only hope for those things—for fulfillment.

If it’s inspirational to live—truly live with the understanding that Jesus is our only hope—then I am indeed an inspiration.

Life has destroyed the illusion that anything else can satisfy.

And you know what? I’m not living in a state of perpetual satisfaction here; just because Jesus satisfies.

Nope.

Ain’t gonna happen this side of heaven.

It’s just not.

I know you’ve encountered people who flippantly tell you that Jesus is the answer for every problem, but you know—you recognize it when someone genuinely believes that to be true—when they’ve found it to be true.

When all the artifice has been stripped away; when all the individual striving has ceased—you know it.

You know—something inside has settled and is at rest.

You know—they have stopped living in expectation of worldly fulfillment and have exchanged that unachievable expectation for living in heavenly anticipation.

It’s not always pretty.

Sometimes deep wounding has revealed the truth that Jesus is our only hope.

Wounds hurt.

And pain is hard to hide.

So sometimes a faith-filled individual looks hollowed out and glassy eyed—because they have reached the end of themselves—given all they had to give—and come up short.

They’ve come up short!

They’ve come up short because they were never intended to do it all. . . be enough all by themselves.

And humility is the result.

Humility is humbling.

It’s the acknowledgement inadequacy.

And then there are those—maybe you know one—a man, woman or child that exudes peace regardless of the circumstances they face.

I don’t know what causes that; if it’s a personality trait or a reflection of spiritual maturity beyond my depth, or maybe a combination of the two; but it’s definitely the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

They . . . those rare, rare, individuals, clearly are at peace with whatever comes their way.

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In the face of great sorrow—peace.

In the face of perilous situations—peace.

In the face of death and destruction—utter and complete peace.

It’s not a lack of energy, resignation or defeat—it’s peace.

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 Peace. 

The absence of personal investment in a preferred outcome. 

Peace.

Hope-infused surrender not hopeless or helpless surrender. 

Peace.

Surely it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit; but I fear the only way to unwrap that gift is cooperating with the Holy Spirit While enduring the shared sufferings of Christ.

Suffering changes people and perspectives.

Suffering is a refining fire.

It’s painful . . .

and it reveals hidden depths of beauty . . . 

and strength.

Suffering burns away the humanity of man and reveals the holiness of God within.

And therein lies the beauty of brokenness.

The glue—faith—holds those broken pieces together.

And from the inside looking out, all that’s seen is the cracked facade . . . 

But from the outside looking in . . . 

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the Holy light of God’s perfected strength shines through that cracked and crumbling facade and the only word to describe the view is . . . Inspirational.

When the Bible tells us to . . .

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” ~  Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

it is preceded by the statement . . .

“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” ~  Matthew 5:15 (KJV)

Here’s the thing . . .

ligth-under-basket1-150x150God’s light shines through your brokenness regardless of whether or not you hide your light under a bushel; just as this picture demonstrates.

Unbelievers can’t help but see the light of God within a believer. The failure to proclaim the source of that light is the equivalent of hiding your light under a bushel. The light under the bushel still shines forth and others see it, and fellow believers recognize it for what it is; but to the lost . . .to the lost . . .

it’s nothing more than an elusive quality they can’t define.

A light under a bushel gives light to others within a house, but not to all that are in the house. Proclaiming the source of the light—placing it on a candlestick so to speak, allows everyone—saved or lost—to choose to draw near to or reject the light of salvation.

So if others tell you your response to adversity is inspiring (the equivalent of seeing your good works)proclaim your faith—(let your light shine) so that your Father in heaven will receive the credit He is due and be glorified.

I’m not inspirational—the God within me is.

I’m the broken facade.

He’s the light within.

And His inspirational light shines through your brokenness too.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Faith

 

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I Don’t Have to Say Goodbye!

(Originally published on Facebook 12/5/14)

Love this song – it fills a spot in this grieving heart. This morning I happened to reread a journal entry I wrote July 10th. I was in a contemplative mood, I guess, because I wrote, “I get the impression that within the Christian community we believe the presence of peace equates to the absence of pain and sorrow. True peace, as I understand it, is the absence of fear – not the absence of pain, sorrow, anger, frustration, and a multitude of other emotions.” I can only think of one place in my Bible where God told someone not to mourn – Ezekiel 24: 15-27 – and as in everything else God does, there was a purpose. Ezekiel’s failure to grieve in the outward manner that was typical of the day, served as a powerful sign to the House of Israel. His unexpected, and obedient behavior ensured the prophecy God had given would be heard and remembered.

I thought I’d include the lyrics here. Words are important to me, Getting them right, matters. I think I’d change “I will shoulder the blame” to “I will shoulder the pain”, but then no one asked me!

I also added a few more comments after the lyrics – if you’ve managed to read this far, you might as well read those too!

Lyrics:

Sometimes your world just ends
It changes everything you’ve been
And all that’s left to be
Is empty, broken, lonely, hoping
I’m supposed to be strong
I’m supposed to find a way to carry on
And I don’t wanna feel better
And I don’t wanna not remember,
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
They keep saying time will heal
But the pain just gets more real
The sun comes up each day
Finds me waiting, fading, hating, praying,
If I can keep on holding on
Maybe I can keep my heart from knowing that you’re gone
And I don’t wanna feel better
I don’t wanna not remember
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
I will curse, I will pray, I will re-live everyday
I will show through the blame
I’ll shout out your name
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say
Will not say goodbye
I will not say goodbye
I will not say…

It’s true, sometimes I don’t want to feel better – but, not all the time. It is also a comfort to know that I don’t have to say good-bye. As a believer in Christ, in spite of pain in the loss, I Do Not Grieve As One Without Hope! Therefore, See you soon is far more accurate than good-bye or as the ever bouncy Tigger of Winnie the Pooh fame (the first known individ . . . er, cartoon character, known to use “chat speak” in everyday conversation) was known to say, TTFN – Ta ta for now!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Faith, Grief, Links

 

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Hard Times, Satan’s Devices & Faith

Hard Times, Satan’s Devices & Faith

The last quarter of 2015 was particularly hard for me.  Gracen had settled in well at JBU, David had changed responsibilities at work, which he was really excited about.  I on the other hand, encountered, a big gaping void.

Preparing to send Gracen to college and living independently after I had spent the last year and a half helping with her personal care needs, left me anxious on a level I’d never experienced before.  Her physical safety was my primary concern and following the deaths of three children, let’s just say I had little confidence that I would not lose Gracen too.

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In addition, in April or May of last year I began fielding a new and distinctly different set of questions.  With graduation on the horizon people began asking me what I intended to do with my time – with the upcoming “empty nest”.   Not one person acknowledged that I was not supposed to have an empty nest.  No one seemed to realize that fear for Gracen’s safety, a premature empty nest and an utter lack of purpose might be frightening and emotionally overwhelming.  Then again, maybe people did understand but felt ill-equipped to address it so avoidance was deemed the most comfortable solution for everyone; myself included.  Unfortunately, avoidance left me feeling alone, stranded in my grief, disappointment and fear.  It also left me feeling as if Katie was unimportant in the eyes of the world and as if my fears for Gracen’s safety were unreasonable in spite of the fact that I knew Gracen was at high risk for injury on campus.

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So, by the time graduation passed, I was a bit of a mess.  I began taking an anti-depressant early in 2015 and by June I was unquestioningly aware that I needed more help.  So an anti-anxiety medication was added to the mix and it made a significant difference.  I had not realized just how much anxiety I’d been living with until the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals provided some much needed chemical relief.

Still, I was weary, frightened and at loose ends so once Gracen settled into school and dorm life, I settled into my bed.  I found myself alone, overcome with the grief I had suppressed in Gracen’s presence, fighting to process it or push down to avoid the excruciating pain and rudderless. I also began sleeping later in the day which affected my medication schedule.  One day I realized that I couldn’t recall when I’d last taken my prescriptions.  Knowing I had an upcoming appointment with my PCP I decided to wait to see him so he could help me restart them safely.  Looking back, that was not a good decision.  A downward spiral took hold.

medication-tired

A typical day looked . . . okay, looks (present tense), because this is still a typical day in my world . . . something like this.  I wake up, get a cappuccino or chai latte, return to bed to read.  I read, write, browse Facebook and email and nap on and off throughout the day. David comes home, FOX news comes on and more often than not he makes dinner.  After dinner, I read, he watches Fox and plays on the computer and finally, lights out.  I toss and turn, mind whirling and when I can’t stand my thoughts and the inability to fall asleep any longer, I start reading again.

Unless I have an appointment with my grief counselor, my trauma counselor (for PTSD), or my PCP everyday is much like the day before.  I’m comfortable with that.  The silence and being alone is easier than being around people. People make me anxious – incredibly anxious.  How does one answer all the oh so simple questions without making others uncomfortable?  How do I answer them without feeling pitiful myself?  “What have you been up to?”, “Will you get a job?”, “Any new hobbies?” A simple, “I’ve missed you” leaves me paralyzed and frantically searching for an appropriate response.  “Me too” is what longs to escape but “Um, thank you” is generally what spills forth.  And as to the what have you been up to question, not much is my reply. No new hobbies, no plans for a part-time job.  The reasons for those brief responses go unspoken as the listener will either feel uncomfortable with my answer or will try to explain to me why a job or hobby would benefit me.  Regardless, a simple “no” is awkward enough as it doesn’t open the door for further conversation.

Is my current daily activity healthy?  Surprisingly, the answer is yes. . . and no.

All those churning thoughts and my writing are a means of working through my grief. The reading is also good for me.  I read suspense, mysteries, thrillers, and romance. They engage the mind.  If I was simply laying in bed, not working through my sorrow and not engaging my mind, that would be cause for concern.

Facebook and email allow me safe access to the outside world.

And the sleep; it’s good too.  I’m trying to take my PCPs advice and get some much needed rest.  He pointed out that should I fail to recharge spiritually, physically and emotionally, I will be running on empty when Gracen inevitably needs additional support. To say Gracen’s shift from walking to using a wheelchair was an enormous change is an understatement of vast proportions.  Wheelchair use involves a mirad of complications I had never considered.  Transfers into and out of the wheelchair, bathroom use with and without handicapped facilities, transporting the chair, finding safe and viable entrance and exit doors, dealing with weather – oh my, dealing with weather!, and a multitude of unforeseen considerations became the new norm.  No one can estimate the demands the next transition in her health will require.  Therefore, I need to be prepared, or be able to get up to speed quickly, in spite of the emotional impact those changes bring.

So I find myself withdrawing from the world around me, to rest, to grieve, to avoid assuming responsibility for making others comfortable with the realities of my life.  I don’t have the motivation or the energy to continue to push myself. Gracen was my motivation.  For her, I would, and still do, force myself forward, but in her absence . . . I lack the impetus to do much of anything.  I’ve struggled with the blues in the past, but never before have I found myself fitting the defined parameters of the clinically depressed.  Just hearing those words uttered by my grief counselor left me deeply ashamed and utterly humiliated.

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Why?  Why would a diagnosis of clinical depression leave me ashamed and humiliated?  I mean really, my counselors keep reiterating that I have suffered loss on a scale uncommon to the average individual, so depression is certainly not an uncommon or even an unexpected response.  I think I felt ashamed because depression is a mental illness and in our society a stigma is still attached to mental illness. Secondly, I had higher, albeit, unrealistic expectations for myself and for my faith.  Clinical depression represented, in my mind, both a personal failure to overcome and, far more painfully, a failure to avail myself of the power of God.  It stank of insufficient faith; not an insufficient God.

At some point along the way I drank the kool-aid and ascribed to the cultural expectation that I was capable of conquering every obstacle by sheer force of will and tenacity.  I should have realized, and in fact, from an intellectual perspective alone, I knew that was lie of epic proportions straight from the slithering serpent in garden of Eden.  That far too prevalent belief system is nothing more than the heart and mind’s rebellious desire to proclaim the soul god.  It’s the cunning and insidious whisper of the snake luring us into believing that with enough knowledge, with enough determination, with enough effort, we are in control.

347cd084-1316-4a6b-ae11-7351050ea284In truth, that idea is nothing but a craftily designed hologram. An idea without formative substance. It’s equivalent to the land of Oz and the impotent wizard hiding behind the castle doors and green drape.

How many times have you heard or used the analogy that if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck?  Therefore, a Christian can easily conclude in the deeply buried regions of their heart and mind, that if they fail to conquer the human emotions grief generates, from guilt to fear, sadness to anger, and so forth, they are failing to walk by faith.  They are failing to apply the principles of their faith.  They are not the Christian they believed themselves to be and often worse, they have failed to live up to the perceptions and expectation of fellow Christians to inspire saints and sinners alike, to give God glory and praise in the midst of their despair and to minister to others.  In other words, God is not insufficient, their faith is insufficient.  They have failed God’s test of their faith.

But is that really true?  This duck analogy sounds good, but is it universally applicable? The truth is that in a paradoxical fashion, faith demands doubt.  The very essence of faith is to fall short of fact.  Jesus has always been the bridge that spans the gap between what we know to be fact and what we trust to be true.  When my faith, when your faith, falls short of expectation are we then dismal Christian failures?  I don’t think so.  We have simply lived up to the limits of our personal faith at that point of time – and lived up to the very essence of faith in general.

The longer I live the more aware I am of exactly how dependent I am upon the Lord God Almighty.  I am the instrument He forms at the potters wheel for His use.   I am made in His image but I was not, nor was any human, created with His perfect power and holiness. As a result, I am vulnerable to temptation and a failure to differentiate between truth and lies and good and evil on occasion.  And yes, I have fallen victim to Satan’s devices.  I’ve both allowed Satan to cunningly communicate a stark untruth about a simple diagnosis and to lead me to question God’s love and kindness by contemplating the idea that He may have withheld the desires of my heart in spite of the fact that I did my best to delight myself in Him.

What exactly does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord you might ask?   Gotquestions.org addressed that very question and their answer follows:

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Taking delight in the Lord means that our hearts truly find peace and fulfillment in Him. If we truly find satisfaction and worth in Christ, Scripture says He will give us the longings of our hearts. Does that mean, if we go to church every Sunday, God will give us a new Rolls Royce? No. The idea behind this verse and others like it is that, when we truly rejoice or “delight” in the eternal things of God, our desires will begin to parallel His and we will never go unfulfilled. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be given to you as well.”

Did God withhold the desires of my heart?  No.  Children were my heart’s desire and I’ve been blessed with four.  I got to love and nurture each one for a finite amount of time.

Did God steal the desire of my heart from me?  The answer to that is no as well.  My children were on loan to me.  They were always His creation and David and I the chosen stewards.

Were they taken from us because we proved to be unworthy stewards?  I don’t believe that at all, in light of scripture.  God predetermined the number of my childrens’ days and in the case of my daughters he allowed man’s free will to intersect with Bethany and Katie’s number of days.  The Bible tells us that sin impacts all of creation and the cost of sin is death.  So be it accident or illness, intent or natural event, all death can ultimately be traced back to sin.

IMG_4284 (1)My grief recovery is complicated by the anticipation of more loss and the very real and reasonable fear of the destruction another loss will wreck within my heart.  Even grieving families that aren’t dealing with progressive disease often struggle with the anticipation and fear of more loss.  They’ve lost their naiveté – they know bad things can and will happen to them – not someone else – down the road.  But for most it is a vague Spector on the periphery of their minds.  For me it is a far more tangible presence and I must find a way to make peace with that and what it teaches me about the Lord.

Our family was living with progressive disease long before the collision that took Bethany and Katie’s lives. The difference between then and now is the loss of worldly hope.  There is a popular saying, “Where there is hope, there is life.”  I have lost the majority of my worldly hopes.  I know just saying that out loud will cause a great many people to reflexively remind me of all the worldly hopes that still lie before me.  What they don’t understand is that I no longer wish to have any worldly hope.  Worldly hope leads to expectations.  Expectations often lead to deferred hope and as we are told in Proverbs 13:12,  “Hope that is deferred afflicteth the soul: desire when it cometh is a tree of life.” – Douay-Rheims Bible.

I prefer to invest my expectation in eternal hope alone; that of eternal life with my savior and fellow saints, because that hope is the only one guaranteed to come to fruition.  I’m confident my hope of eternity will be fulfilled and not deferred.

However, I have yet to make peace with the role progressive disease will play in our lives, precisely because of all my prior losses.  It feels unfair.  It feels too much to ask of any one believer.  If this is what God’s love looks like, my more cynical perspective leads me to beg Him to share the love (with someone else)!  And yes, God can carry me through anything He allows to happen in my life, but before anyone reminds me of that truth (because I am well aware it’s true) put yourself in my shoes.  Google ARSACS (a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy) and read about what it does to an individual and then imagine walking that path with your child.  Imagine helping your child as their health declines.  Imagine standing by helpless to change it or improve their quality of life.  Imagine the things I’ve eluded to and left unspoken.  Making peace with God’s plans, with His will, with His sufficient grace is far harder when it’s personal, when you find yourself “feeling” as if His grace might not be quite be sufficient for you after all you have endured already.

PTSD-battle-PINI have reached the point of acknowledging that the best I may be able to hope for in regards to ARSACS, may consist of a cycle of repeated but temporary interludes of peace.

We live in a continuous grief cycle.  Gracen loses a previously mastered skill and we mourn and despair it’s loss and the daily ramifications that ripple out in waves from that loss. Eventually, we adapt to her new normal and settle into a wary peace until the cycle restarts with a new loss.  It’s just the way life works in our home.  Every time the cycle begins anew, we hurt.  Fear arises as does disappointment and sometimes even despair. I’m not sure if the Holy Spirit is actually doing a new work of trust and peace with each cycle or if each cycle simply forces me to acknowledge an as yet unconquered weakness (or doubt) in my faith.  Maybe I just keep spinning my wheels without making any forward progress.  Yet a person who is maturing rarely notices the subtle changes until enough growth has occurred and their pants are inch too short.  I imagine spiritual maturity is as subtle a process as manifest in physical maturity.  It’s only looking back far down the road that real progress is recognized.

Food-antidepressantToday, I am doing well to say without shame, my name is Janet Boxx.  I am clinically depressed.  I have anxiety issues.  I have PTSD.  I self medicate my anxiety with food.  (Ok, that I’m ashamed of – although I’m happy to report that while I may be a glutton, at least for now I’m not a suicidal, drug or alcohol addicted, glutton).  I lack the motivation to return phone calls, emails  and text messages; to clean my house, pay bills, shop for groceries, do laundry and sometimes even to shower.  It is what it is and my response to my life’s circumstances is not abnormal in the bereaved parents community, even two years down the road.

Having said all that; do not drop by unannounced!  I still have the capacity to feel great embarrassment and utter mortification.  Just because I’m comfortable in my current state of sloth doesn’t mean I’m equally comfortable having friends and family witness it.

Before speculation germinates, let me just say that David has demonstrated the utmost patience and support. He has taken on the tasks I normally do without complaint, anger or resentment.  He has a servants heart and demonstrates his love for Gracen and I in actions more than words.  He guards my privacy. David is better at compartmentalizing his grief than I am.  He has not, nor has ever, abandoned me to my grief and more importantly has never criticized or judged the way in which I am coping with the very same losses he, himself, is dealing with.  Our experiences with trauma are different because we were exposed to different things and took on different roles at the scene of the accident, at various hospitals, at home caring for Gracen during her recovery, with the medical community and the legal system and we simply deal with trauma differently.

This is what my life looks like when the Potter decides the pot He previously formed has served its intended purpose.  This is what my life looks like once I was fractured into minuscule pieces, returned to softened clay, and set to  spinning on the Potter’s wheel while He molds me into a new shape with a new or more complicated purpose in mind (after all, I am still a wife and mother).

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And you know what?  As ugly as this lump of clay currently is, as uncomfortable as it is for me to find myself in this state, it’s okay to be a lump of clay in the Creator’s hands. There is no safer place to be and while others, myself included, may worry about who and what I’m becoming, I’m confident God is not.  He sees beyond the here and now – past the dark tunnel I’m traveling through – clear to an eternal future where He will literally light my world.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Grief, Muscular Dystrophy

 

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I Don’t Have to Say Goodbye!

(Originally published on Facebook 12/5/14)

Love this song – it fills a spot in this grieving heart. This morning I happened to reread a journal entry I wrote July 10th. I was in a contemplative mood, I guess, because I wrote, “I get the impression that within the Christian community we believe the presence of peace equates to the absence of pain and sorrow. True peace, as I understand it, is the absence of fear – not the absence of pain, sorrow, anger, frustration, and a multitude of other emotions.” I can only think of one place in my Bible where God told someone not to mourn – Ezekiel 24: 15-27 – and as in everything else God does, there was a purpose. Ezekiel’s failure to grieve in the outward manner that was typical of the day, served as a powerful sign to the House of Israel. His unexpected, and obedient behavior ensured the prophecy God had given would be heard and remembered.

I thought I’d include the lyrics here. Words are important to me, Getting them right, matters. I think I’d change “I will shoulder the blame” to “I will shoulder the pain”, but then no one asked me!

I also added a few more comments after the lyrics – if you’ve managed to read this far, you might as well read those too!

Lyrics:

Sometimes your world just ends
It changes everything you’ve been
And all that’s left to be
Is empty, broken, lonely, hoping
I’m supposed to be strong
I’m supposed to find a way to carry on
And I don’t wanna feel better
And I don’t wanna not remember,
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
They keep saying time will heal
But the pain just gets more real
The sun comes up each day
Finds me waiting, fading, hating, praying,
If I can keep on holding on
Maybe I can keep my heart from knowing that you’re gone
And I don’t wanna feel better
I don’t wanna not remember
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
I will curse, I will pray, I will re-live everyday
I will show through the blame
I’ll shout out your name
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say
Will not say goodbye
I will not say goodbye
I will not say…

It’s true, sometimes I don’t want to feel better – but, not all the time. It is also a comfort to know that I don’t have to say good-bye. As a believer in Christ, in spite of pain in the loss, I Do Not Grieve As One Without Hope! Therefore, See you soon is far more accurate than good-bye or as the ever bouncy Tigger of Winnie the Pooh fame (the first known individ . . . er, cartoon character, known to use “chat speak” in everyday conversation) was known to say, TTFN – Ta ta for now!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith, Grief, Links

 

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Look Up!

Look Up!

(Originially posted to Facebook 9/20/14)

“My hope is that instead of searching for ‘God’s will for my life’ each of us would learn to seek hard after ‘the Spirit’s leading in my life today.’ May we learn to pray for an open and willing heart, to surrender to the Spirit’s leading with that friend, child, spouse, circumstance, or decision in our lives right now.” – Francis Chan

There’s a big difference between ‘searching for God’s will in your life’ and ‘striving to walk led by the spirit’. The first implies that we will one day stumble upon this mystery God has previously veiled from our eyes and it will be smooth sailing thereafter. The second seems much more consistent with the entirety of scripture. In visual form it’s the kneeling Psalmist “looking up” every morning for manna from heaven – or the image of a vine awaiting the ministrations of the vine dresser.

Make no mistake, laying down your will for Christ’s superior plan is no easy feat. The surrender of the will is nothing short of a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer and the peace that passes all understanding seems to follow fast on its heels. That kind of peace, well, it’s definitely a pearl of great price.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith

 

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Uncovering Unknown Issues of the Heart

(Facebook Post 7/26/15)
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I made a personal discovery today, or maybe God revealed it to me. It has left me feeling even more emotionally fragile than I was before. I discovered that I know a lot about God from an intellectual standpoint. I discovered that I know a lot of scripture, even if I can’t associate the Bible reference with most of them. But I also discovered that I don’t “feel” the most basic of Biblical truths; at least in regards to myself. What is this truth that has left me reeling? This truth I know in my head but not in my heart? This truth that staggered me to the very core of my being when I finally became aware of it? This is the truth that knock my feet out from under me: God loves you, Janet.

Now, I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in sanctuaries and auditoriums and heard how “it’s not about emotional responses.” That we can’t always trust our feelings – which is why we rely on scripture. I certainly understand that argument on an intellectual level. I do. I get it and I’ve practiced it. When my heart’s been decimated, I’ve clung to the truth that my circumstances are not a reflection of God’s feelings toward me. I’ve held fast to the teaching that God is sovereign but that man has free will. I’ve believed that God doesn’t cause bad things to happen but that He does allow them to happen. I’ve trusted that He never leaves me, that He walks through the bad stuff with me, that He uses the bad stuff to refine my faith and conform me into the imagine of Christ and to somehow use that testimony to bring the lost to salvation; that I’m a tool in the Master’s hand used to bring Him glory.

But somewhere along the way my understanding has become warped. All the losses and the role disease has played in our family is all intertwined with my faith. I’m messed up. If the sole purpose of my life is to bring glory to God and enjoy him forever and if God allows me to be hurt over and over for the purpose of conforming me into Christ’s image and to bring Him glory, then we aren’t describing a God of love, we are describing a self-serving or an ego-maniacal God and that, of course, is in complete opposition to scripture.

So, I know I’ve gotten it wrong somewhere along the way. Maybe I simply accepted the easiest answer to explain God’s sovereignty because I needed an explanation, a purpose, when no real answer could be found. God rarely answers the why question, so I found one I could attribute to an overall grand design. But I can no longer cling to this idea that all this pain is for my good or that it’s justified for another’s salvation. I need to “feel” God’s love for me, not just know He loves me in my head. Otherwise, I’m left feeling as if I’m expendable for the benefit of others. That God loves others more than He loves me. That I’m little more than a means to an end and that the pain it all causes me is not of concern to God. If His purpose is simply to conform me or lead the lost to Christ, then I don’t feel individually cherished or worthy, or precious in His sight. I feel used – that I’m being conformed into a Christian Stepford Wife. I think that is why the idea that some ministry might rise from the ashes of Bethany and Katie’s deaths, from Gracen’s injuries and progressive disease, has been so repulsive to me.

The logical part of my being recognizes that God loves me but I can’t reconcile my theology and my reality. I can’t feel it in my heart – I need to experience His love for myself instead of simply reading about it in the Bible. And I don’t know how to go about it – I’m not even sure there is anything I can do about it. I need God to do it – to change my heart so that I can experience the depth, width and height of His love.

I can’t even describe how broken I am, how tired I feel. I’ve got no words to enable another to understand the prison that my brain has become. The ache, the hollowness left in my heart – the utter and complete devastation not just for what has already happened but for what is yet to come. I don’t know how many more blows I can take, because I’m not fending them off, I’m taking them on the chin.

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I am worried about sending Gracen off to college but I’ve come to realize it is something we both need. She needs to experience it and I want her to as well. I feel so selfish saying this, but I need a break. Not from Gracen – I need a break from the constant reminders of the accident. From the visceral response I have to seeing or hearing that wheelchair coming down the hall. From the things I now do for Gracen that she used to do for herself. It’s about the tasks and lost health resulting from her disease and the accident – not Gracen, herself. It’s about all the unpleasant changes that have happened to the child I love more than life itself endlessly assaulting my heart and mind.

It’s relentless. I just can’t escape it so that I can somehow work it out and live with it. Not just living without bitterness but actually continue to survive the emotional, spiritual and physical destruction. Oh to be able to escape, to flee from it all if not permanently then temporarily so that I can catch my breath and get my feet back under me. So that I can quiet the constantly striving voices in my minds. So I can find some peace. I’m so desperate for a little bit of peace!

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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Chronic Illness, Faith, Grief, Muscular Dystrophy

 

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