Sunday, July 8, 2007
some things He's shown me...
Tonight, I had the precious joy of watching my younger sister marry. I've spent months preparing for it, and yet, in the last ten days, have had to re-evaluate what it means to stand up for one's sibling in such a ceremony, what it means to celebrate commitment to another, and how I would ever do either. I have to tell you that the Lord is revealing new things to me all the time, one of which is that cliches are cliches because they often hold great truth. People talk about the 'power of prayer' and of course it's even scriptural that we can have a "peace that passes understanding," but until you have tapped into that, it's hard to buy it. I confess it now freely because I believe Conor and I have been witnesses and partakers in such a power and peace. As I said, God keeps finding it somehow important for me to stumble across new truths - some of which, I'm sure for you, aren't new at all. And so, at one a.m., the urge to write them down compels me to share with now.
1. Encouragement does not mean a shift in circumstances. Because Conor and I have received such dire news, there's a "sinking down" that you experience which, although I'm sure logistically could be lower, feels somehow totally hopeless on some levels - and therefore forces us to Jesus. I walk through each day clinging to Him... and I don't even really know what that means other than the fact that I drive my car around and have to say aloud occasionally, "God, I need you... Please get me through today." And He does. He doesn't change things... He doesn't necessarily make them better. But somehow, it's easier. That would be the "passing understanding" part of the peace. I can't explain it. But I do know that I have learned in just a few short days not to expect for that peace, whether directly from the Lord or via a friends' well-wishes, to come only at the price of a change in my landscape. Things look bleak. Things may continue to. But faith, hope and love do indeed endure.
2. I have believed, in my twenty-seven (almost twenty-eight now!) years of living, that I have understood despair. Perhaps not known it, but grasped it conceptually. How little I realized that despair is not a concept, not even an idea, most of us can fully interpret until we've felt it in our stomachs, breathed it in, tasted it on the air. I realized the other afternoon that it's much like sitting on the bottom of a lake, looking up at the waving surface: the people above can place their hands onto the water, feel it skim their fingertips, but until they are lodged at the bottom of that lake, it's difficult to fully know what it looks and feels like down below. I was one such person. And perhaps you are now. I don't enjoy being on the bottom of the lake. And I confess I pray never to be again (although I do know that's highly unlikely). But I can say this: things become remarkably clear down there. There isn't as much distraction. And perhaps the greatest blessing is that suddenly, you are knit together with a great portion of the world who often feels that they, too, are stuck at the bottom of that lake. Despair isn't circumstantial - how pesky our circumstances seem to be! - but rather universal. If we have not tasted it, I suspect we are not really living. I pray something in my eyes will forever give away that I, too, have had my share of "lower-lake-living", and that I can love people better for it.
3. My dad loves the song "September" by Earth Wind and Fire. Tonight, we danced to it with my sister, her new husband, and the rest of my gloriously large extended family. It was heaven. I tried to capture every image around me to stow away in my brain for a harder day - people bouncing, laughing, sweating, the music blaring, the sounds of joyful shouts ringing around me. Perhaps what was most precious was watching my incredibly energetic three year-old, at well toward 10 o'clock, boogying the night away. She imparts so much joy with so little effort. And that's what hit me: I had prayed for joy. You had prayed for joy. In the midst of a sorrowful time, a time when things feel so despondent, there can be joy. I choose it. Not for tomorrow, but for now. I cannot say what I will feel tomorrow and my soul tells me that I will probably find these words hard to bear down the road. But for the moment, I will gird myself up by saying that joy is a thing we must put on. God offers us the cloak... we must slip it over our shoulders. We may not have the opportunity to choose much in Copeland's life: her Christmas gifts, her school, her hair bows and dresses, the dailies of her schedule and the small trivialities that I must confess now I so long to hold onto. But we can choose the legacy of joy we leave her. I rejoice that even now, she will inherit more than heirlooms. My hope is that somehow, as Conor and I walk this journey, seeking to put on joy - and hope, and expectation, and acceptance - both of our girls will be blessed.
Posted by vim+dash at 12:47 AM