Sunday, November 09, 2008

Some time ago I wrote a long very personal letter to a friend. There was a misunderstanding between us, a difference in perspective and opinion, and my commitment to our relationship seemed to require a thoughtful, honest and loving explanation of who I am and where I was coming from in the matter. I spent several days over this message, carefully pondering what is important to convey and what is not, in order to ensure that there is a better understanding, a broadening of our ways as we live Christ-life in this world and that our friendship would be strengthened rather than weakened as a result. The letter was finally completed and I sent it off. It was as if I’d sent a piece of my deepest me by the click of a mouse. I eagerly waited for the response. I got it. In one short sentence there was a polite acknowledgment of the receipt and a generic “hope for the best”. And that was all. I kept waiting. And waiting. I worked hard trying to understand how such a letter could generate such anemic response. What I sent wasn’t a mass mailer, a forwarded forward of something somebody 8 degrees removed forwarded to somebody else. It was personal. It was my heart and soul and mind. For days I did my best to show grace and understanding – being myself deluged by the plethora of reading material – even good reading material and the careful selection of what I must and what I simply can not afford to read in the context of the constraints of a busy ministry and family life we all live. In my head I could fully explain such inexplicable response, but my heart…. my heart was tottering under a boulder weighing a ton. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I went to the Lord and poured my complaint before Him. The accusations and the explanations. What I did and said in the letter, and most importantly why. The deep, deep disappointment over how it was received, the frustration that I couldn’t “just get over it”, for what’s the big deal?!!! It’s just a letter! I was only about half-way done with the presentation of my case when from the depths of my soul came an echo, I understand.

I understand
?!!! I stopped mid-sentence. I understand? Was God of the Universe trying to tell me that He understands? I stepped out of my little puddle of self-pity and pondered the two simple words. The “I” of the Word of God, the great I AM who not only spoke the world into existence but went through the trouble of enlisting dozens of willing and unwilling individuals over a period that spans centuries in order to give us, to write down for us the heart of His very heart and the mind of His very mind so that the most misunderstood living Person can reveal Himself to us and as a result rebuild, fortify and expand our friendship. He meticulously chose not only what to say but also how to say it so we can know Him – know Him as He truly is, not as we project Him to be – making Him a conglomeration of our own prejudices, limitations and hurts. Then He sends off the letter. And He waits. And waits. And waits. We may politely acknowledge the receipt and periodically skim over the words, too busy, too preoccupied to connect with the heart of the Author. Feeling misunderstood still?
My droplet of grief merged with the ocean of love and sorrow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I found some rogue blooms in my garden today – surviving offspring of their outlawed parents. Outrageously bold they banned their heads together in an eye-catching display of brilliant orange and yellow on a gloomy, overcast day. I didn’t plant them. I didn’t want them. But, somehow, their rebellious audacity warmed my heart and lightened its burden on this day.

Sometimes I think, I don’t like this plant in my garden. I’ll pull it up and put something else in its place. I’ll do all I can to ensure this will grow here and this won’t.

I have a vision for my garden, what it should, or shouldn’t be. But God, in His infinite wisdom, love and mercy messes up my landscaping dream and causes the blooms of His own desire and design. Should I not rejoice in them and receive from His hand the unexpected, even the unwanted? Isn’t both the garden and those who tend it His own to do as He pleases – by His unrivaled yet mysterious hand creating beauty and hope out of what brings me disappointment and frustration? So, I look at the brilliant faces of the audacious rebels and ask myself if I should redouble my effort in stomping them out, refusing the joy because I haven't chosen them? Or do I yield to their beauty and surrender to the unseen hand carrying out purposes which are so much bigger than my little patch of land and the scrupulous strategies I diligently apply to protect it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

We went trick-or-treating with some dear friends of ours last night. Four days before Election Day. As we walked from house to house, there was a sign in somebody’s front yard, “Obama for President.” Our friend’s son (who is also Caleb’s best friend) made a remark about the sign and announced that he didn’t like Obama. He liked McCain.

The Pandora’s Box of current political turmoil flew open and its contents exploded into our faces.

What do you mean?!!!!
Exclaimed Caleb who I'd thought had remained largely ignorant of the impassioned debates of this election season. His simple black-and-white world was splashed with the brilliant colors of conflicting emotions. My mom, my sister and I are voting for Obama! Then he added, My dad is voting for McCain. His shocking pronouncement reverberated through the civic-conscious parts of our group of trick-or-treaters.

This is the first time that Nathan and Caleb disagreed on anything. Their shared passion for Legos, Star Wars and harassment of their baby sisters has fueled their extraordinarily harmonious relationship since the day they set eyes on each other. My husband was mortified. I was both mortified and found the situation quite hilarious. Our friends were mildly bewildered. They looked at me. I guess there was an unspoken assumption that we all agree, if not on everything, then at least on the choice of the candidate. My own personal wrestling with the decision as well as the process have remained largely …well - personal. I clarified Caleb’s statement by saying that I am still undecided. We couldn’t really engage in a deeper conversation about my own grappling with this year’s elections. I wasn’t too concerned about this, knowing that our friendship, love, appreciation and respect for each other would carry us through even the most turbulent waters of current politics. However I was concerned about Caleb and Nathan’s launch out of the honeymoon phase of their David-and-Jonathan friendship into a bumpy political landing.

When we returned to the house I called Nathan, who is a bit older, to me and said, Nathan, how are you and Caleb going to solve this Obama-McCain deal? He shook his head dejectedly, a worried look all over his face. I may have an idea, I said and bent over, whispering in his ear, You just love each other, honey. You keep loving each other. When the time came for us to say our good byes, Caleb and Nathan hugged each other with this inseparable, crack-each-other’s-ribs looong hug. The next morning I asked Caleb the same question I asked Nathan the previous night. I think we already solved it, Mom, he said, We already solved it.