Monday, June 30, 2008

Last night I spent three hours with a friend, shoveling through the manure of our lives, getting neck-deep into things we don’t understand and don’t like about the way our marriages and our parenting is unfolding (and I would add, what those ugly facts reveal about us!). We talked about the out-of-control emotional outbursts, which, in reality, are only a shadow, a weak manifestation that barely scratches the surface of the hidden reality of deep-rooted passions and disappointments; about our desperate need to plunge that deep with Christ and seek to at least begin understanding this untameable, mysterious underworld. We talked about not judging - I even read Oswald Chamber’s entry for June 17, mainly focusing on not making measuring rods for other people because there is always one more thing that we don’t see and understand as we come to them in criticism and judgment. After she left, I kept wondering, What was this all about? What did we miss? There were a lot of raw emotions – anger, hurt, sadness, frustration, tears. The words that we shared, what was expressed was barely touching the tip of the iceberg of the subterranean world of our thoughts, feelings, motives, wounds of the past, stabs of the present … We spent a fair amount of time talking to Jesus about all this. The prayer unfolded as a rushing river taking direction all of its own, the waves of the eternal truth of the eternal redemption, complete forgiveness in the Messiah and Spirit-empowered life splashing over us. Nevertheless, we were still left helpless and frustrated with all this burden of knowledge (partial as it was) to crush us under its weight. Then this morning it dawned on me that we never came to the place I have visited many times myself when found in the similar situations. The place where the Holy Spirit imparts knowledge as power. (This is the quote I was wrecking my brain to remember last night but couldn’t; this morning it came to me effortlessly!) The place where this crushing, frustrating burden (I see people like trees…) is transformed into fertile soil of personal spiritual growth (I see everything clearly) Because that’s where the empowerment has to come – it’s not about God changing other people to conform them to my image, to my idea or ideal of what they should be like, but letting God be as creative and unique and unrepeatable and patient and persevering with them as He is with me. We dug a little bit around the roots, but we were digging around the wrong tree, and we were not digging deep enough! We stopped one step too short. We dipped our toes into the ocean, but didn’t jump in and allow the ocean to wash over us and then pop us back up with its own inherent power and laws. God uses these excruciating experiences of our lives as a powerful mirror to show us what we are like to Him all the time. He invites us to soak up, drink up, dive in to the crud of life, experience the dredge of emotions we try to avoid, deny, suppress, justify, dress up with our own rationalizations instead of standing naked before Him and crying out, God, I am naked and in pain. I hurt and I am angry. Show me what You want me to take away from this! (which is just a different way of saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner! But, by choosing to indulge in all these luxuries of Self (or rather, not refusing to indulge) we are cutting off the root from the plant, and consequently the vitality and intricate connections of Life itself wither in us and we die. But, if indeed I refuse my right to Self, if I come to Jesus and stand before Him, naked and hurt, and remain standing in His presence, not refusing the Father’s cup, the bitter gall is slowly but surely transformed into life-giving nectar. I know I am capable of the same atrocities I so passionately see and condemn in others. I’ve done them many times myself. But now, but NOW God wants me to stop rationalizing my own excuses, and absorb the full emotional power of these events so next time I find myself in the same or similar situation, tempted to do the same thing, I will have this emotional imprint on my soul that would put reins on my unattainable heart, and perhaps, and perchance I won’t do the very evil I am driven to commit because I have seen with my own eyes how devastating it is to others and even more importantly, how heartbreaking it is to our God and Father.

Stripes that wound scour away evil, and strokes reach the innermost parts Proverbs 20:30