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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fear

Someone dear to me is battling addiction, a nasty, vicious harmer of body and soul. And I don't just mean the addict's. I find myself raging at the compulsion that has reduced a once robust individual to a far frailer version of himself. I succumb to the vengeful act of setting unreasonable boundaries at times, causing shame and humiliation, where calm detachment would better serve. I rant rather than reserve comment, offering ultimatums instead of understanding.

The basis for this worthless haranguing? None other than cold, terrifying fear. Fear of losing the fight, i.e., losing the fighter. Fear that all my efforts were in vain. Fear that, in the end, I really am powerless over another person’s choices.

Yesterday it was suggested to me that a better tack would be to buoy up the struggler, really get behind him, assuring him of my faith in his ultimate conquest of the monster within. Oh, and by the way, it would help if I actually meant those cheerleading words. I rolled my eyes mentally. How many times could I be expected to come alongside this person, knowing he had relapsed time and again? After all, everyone knows “seventy times seven” is just hyperbole, right?

But desperation breeds willingness. Willingness to hope when hope is ridiculous. When all sane measures have been exhausted - when every reasonable door has been tapped on, banged on, busted down, and still another lock prevents entry to freedom – hope in its simplest form is disguised as perseverance.

So I instructed my tongue to form words of encouragement. It was merely a rote exercise, like forcing myself to get out of bed despite my body’s demands for R&R. I started small, murmuring comforting words, more to myself than to the sufferer. I worked up gradually to specific instances of overcoming, any victories I could hearken back to, reminding us both that success in past endeavors might well suggest hope for the future.

Ever so slightly, like the sun cracking open the curtains of night, my prattle took on meaning. At some point I noticed I meant what I was saying. Before I knew it, I no longer had to reach for examples of victory; they were there for the taking. Because this person really is a wondrous, accomplished individual, made in God’s image; why shouldn’t he experience deliverance?

Sometimes you’ve just got to shake your fist – I mean, Fist - at fear, and show it who’s Boss.




  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Looking Up

I have a beautiful new bedroom. The walls are pale lavendar, the trim a creamy white. Thus far, I have managed to keep it uncluttered (no small achievement for a packrat like me). A dear friend contributed magnificent, lacy curtains (not to mention, expensive), right off her own windows, because she knew how much I loved them.


The one thing that is not so aesthetically pleasing is the floor. As the painting progressed, I toyed with the idea of fully carpeting the room; therefore, I allowed the painter to be less than careful as she worked. In addition, the floor has some nasty scarring, the result of furniture being moved without necessary caution. I selected a lovely sculpted area rug (sage green) that covers most of the unsightliness, but it's there, and I know it.

At the risk of over-spiritualizing (if there is any such thing - after all, God calls us to think about Him every day in every way, Deuteronomy 6:6-7), I think there's a message here. When I look around my room, I'm struck by the glorious, soothing colors, and the way the whole venue comes together. It really turned out better than I ever imagined. However, when I cast my eye downward, I notice all the flaws. So, being fully aware of the damaged state of the floor, I consciously turn my gaze upward, and with it go the corners of my mouth into a delighted grin, which is as it should be. Why should I allow the imperfections of my living space - whether I'm thinking of my home in particular, or the world at large - to discourage me? When the time is right, I'll tackle the marring, but for now I have every reason to be grateful and joyful. Many loving hands put this room (and this planet) together, and I'd be a fool not to enjoy them.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God (Psalm 42:11)

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." 
(Colossians 3:1-2)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sleeplessness

A dear friend offered the following account of her recent bout with sleeplessness. Upon realizing - for the first time - that God was with her as she struggled with eyes that wouldn't stay closed, she decided to stop fighting it. She invited her heavenly Father to join her, right there, in her insomnia. The pressure off, she relaxed in the night and waited for sleep to come, when and if it would.


"If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:11-12

Check out Michael Card's Even the Darkness is Light to Him

Grade School Heroes

I was picked on as a child.

It started when I befriended a runny-nosed kid named David in elementary school. The school bullies quickly pegged him as under-confident, and they ran with it. Once word got out that he was an easy target, nothing could save him. His mother signed up to be a playground monitor; they teased him behind her back. She invited the whole class to a themed birthday party for him; they ate his cake Saturday and resumed their torture on Monday. My overtures of kindness to this unfortunate boy became fodder for speculation that I liked him. I went down right along with him.

Joy Waters, a minister's daughter, reached out and refused to join in with the others' harassment of me. She wasn't brave enough, as a second grader, to launch a campaign or anything, but quietly let me know she didn't share in the prevailing opinion. She was, quite simply, a Godsend.

My social troubles remained throughout the elementary years. I coped by taking frequent "vacations" from school, conjuring up sore throats and nebulous symptoms which my lenient mother let me get away with. Towards the end of those lonely years, God sent Jean News into my life. I later learned she stood up for me one day while I was absent and the kids decided to hold a Thea-bashing session. Jean was socially everything I was not - involved, outgoing, and most importantly, well-liked. Her voice held sway. If I didn't gain in popularity, at least the bullies began to leave me alone.

In middle school (or "junior high," as it was known at the time), I still struggled to be accepted. My biggest problem, I now realize, was I didn't believe in myself. I trusted that the sneerers and mockers knew what they were talking about. Also, I hadn't yet learned the liberating secret of acting as if. I didn't know that the one with the poker face wins the hand, that I could pretend to be confident, even as I was withering on the inside. God provided yet another angel, Lisa Sanborn, who candidly admitted she liked me, but simply couldn't take the risk of letting it be known, lest she become the next victim. I grasped her invisible help like a man in quicksand grabs hold of a life preserver. Rescue is not an option; sinking's inevitable, but there's an illusion of hope that allows the  dying man to carry on. Lisa's whispered words comforted and strengthened my flickering self-esteem. I held on for dear life.

So on the eve of a new school year, I offer thanks to these dear souls. Their varying levels of courage did not in any way diminish the gift that each gave me in my darkest hours: the gift of a hand outstretched, however trembling, to one that needed to be held.

"'The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.'" Numbers 6:23-27

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Grade School Heroes Part 2

Morsels for Meditation...: Lockers and Notebooks...

Morsels for Meditation...: School Bells and Ink Quills