Pain and Purpose

January 31, 2008

This month is gone. 

Time continues its march onward. 

One day bleeds into another. 

No clear direction. 

No space in time where things are normal. 

I wait. 

What can God do through time and its passing?

Long waits shift my attention to quieter, peaceful thoughts until she speaks. 

Then all feeling in my body rushes to the top of my brain; fighting to get out- no room, no room! 

Guilt, frustration, anger, resentment all push to get in the way of peace. 

Push, but there’s no exit. 

Brain tired, very tired.

 

Found this little snippet today as I was going through some papers. I wrote those words in January of the year my mother was dying. My youngest child had just been married. Yet, the joy of that day was diminished by the watching and waiting that was going on in my heart.  No day passed but there it was full in my face. Even more so when I was with her. The adult relationship that should have been a friendship that deepened over the years never matured. We were both stuck at 16- she could not relate any other way than she did when I was that age. No matter how much I wanted to have what others had in their relationships with their parents it never happened. 

Six months down the road from that moment I wrote those words she died. I went from feeling like a puppet whose strings were pulled every time I sat to rest or work or play or read or think to suddenly having space in my brain to breathe again. I never slept through the night in those days; her life always crashed in during those early morning hours when I should have been oblivious of the world around me. 

What, to the rest of the world would have been days of mourning and grief; were for me, only days of relief. Don’t take that wrong, I had been grieving for 40 years- since I turned 16. The grieving process does not escape even those of us who have severely dysfunctional relationships with our parents. There is anger, resentment, guilt, a constant pain in our hearts, and a severe longing that never goes away. The wishing for something that would never be-never left me while she was alive. 

I realize that this is pretty revealing and raw to post; but some of you may identify with it. I used to wonder why things were the way they were between us; I would cry out to God in bewilderment and pain- “What is it I’m supposed to learn in this relationship? Why can’t things be normal? Can’t you, won’t you fix her or me or something?”

I understand now, almost three years on, that there was purpose in that life and relationship and in walking through those days with her.  The understanding has come to my heart; in my head I knew there was purpose, yet my heart went on wanting what was never going to happen.

The perspective I’ve been given, for that is what it is- a gift that has come out of that seemingly never ending turmoil; the perspective I have now helps me to understand that my time is not my own. It is God’s to do with what He wills- to make me into the ‘me‘ He has purposed so that I can be the best representation of Him to others that I can be. 

I am still learning…

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3: 10-11

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1John3:19-20

Straight to the Point

I find that I am blunt about many things. I think my family and friends would agree. The word ‘non-confrontational’ has been bantered about in the family but not in the same sentence with my name. There are times I’ve been told I’m being judgmental, and yes, I do admit to sounding that way on occasion but not by intent. My words are straight to the point. In a heated discussion with the people I love, my tact has a way of going out the window. Working on that one!

 ‘To put it bluntly‘ and ‘If you really want to know what I think…’ pepper my conversations frequently with my family and those words do slip into what appears, on the surface, to be a casual conversation with a friend. In other words: if you ask for my opinion- be prepared. (I knew there was good use for that Girl Scout motto!)

 

I think that “beating around the bush” or ignoring the “elephant in the room” are time wasters and results in dancing in the dark –which leads to stumbling and stepping on toes.  I know I am quick to try to get folks to recognize the elephant’s presence and for them to admit he’s got on a pink tutu and has a green Mohawk; not to mention the camo boots he’s wearing at the bottom of those tree trunks we call his legs.   I think persuasive is what that’s called.  Ok, pushy then. Working on that one, too!

 

Some would point out to me that scripture says to remove the log from your own eye before you try to remove the splinter in another’s eye.  And sometimes they are right; but only sometimes.  Straight from my heart, I think The Word is also pretty clear about removing the hindrances in our lives and pressing on.  Yes, friends, it means I’m –wait for it- don’t rush it;

 I-AM-A-FIXER

 I’m a nurse, a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law, a grandmother and a friend; what were you expecting?     

I am a trained, dyed in the wool, have years of practice fixer, yessiree!  I fix things. 

Scraped knees and cut fingers are the most frequent things on the list. But an issue that needs to be fixed, a solution that needs to be found, a different way of doing something, seeing things from another perspective, I gravitate to those challenges. Not because I’m a know it all, but because I want to understand and make things better.

 

Being a fixer means two things to me.

First, I speak the truth when you ask me a question about something that’s on your mind. (people who know me know that I’m going to tell them exactly what I think). I do take this seriously and earnestly want to help when asked. 

And second, it means that I realize that I’m not really The Fixer here. My job is to point whoever is asking to the Living Word.  

 

If you find that you need a human face to talk with about that elephant…I’d be honored with your trust.

I am truly honored when someone wants to talk over an issue with me, I pray I will speak with love and encouragement and re-direction to the One who has the answers. There’s comfort in a conversation with Him that we can find in no one else.  He knows and understands on a level that is far beyond human understanding; and in His love for you, His comfort will get you through anything.

 

Something to think about:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

 

For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs2:6

 

Praise be to the Lord, our God and Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68: 19

 

Come unto me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

A Challenge from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The following words came from an email devotional that I received from Michael Card, the musician, a few years ago. 

 

“While I was at Western Kentucky University, Eberhard Bethge, the great biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, shared a story with us. Bonhoeffer was discipling a group of young men in a secret underground seminary during World War II. The regimen required students to meditate on a passage of Scripture for two hours a day. 

After only a few days, some of the men complained to Bonhoeffer that their minds were wandering. It was unreasonable, they told the amused Bonhoeffer, to require this of them when they had so many worries at home. He told them to stop trying to fight it. “Follow your mind wherever it goes,” he said. “Follow it until it stops and then, wherever it stops, make that person or problem a matter for prayer. The struggling only leads to more noise and inner turmoil.”- Michael Card

 

It made such an impression on me that I wanted to share this with you and challenge you to try to meditate on a scripture passage yourself. It matters not whether it’s a small or large passage. I myself chose only one verse. I did end up meditating on it for quite sometime and wrote down the impact it made upon me and yes, it was a subject for prayer-long, intense prayer. Perhaps there’s something that you are struggling with-this may help you as it’s helped me. I’ve since done it with other verses and it’s still amazing to me what I’ve discovered about myself and the people and situations who come to mind that the Lord wanted me to pray over.