Saturday, June 30, 2012

the singing of Jesus

So, I've had to answer a few questions about the post on custody.  What did I mean when I said that I choose to hurt?  Sounds odd, I know.  It's just this.  You know when you think about something painful and it stings you right to the pit of your stomach?  If you don't know what this means, I've got nothing for you.  You must have never suffered or you have learned to deal with suffering and won't learn anything here from me. :-)  I know this gut twisting grief well.  I lived in it for months.  What I learned (mostly from Bruce) is that when I face the pain I heal.

It's kind of like the difference between the Lamaze and Bradley methods of childbirth.  Lamaze teaches you (or it did 21 years ago) to pant, move toward a beautiful flower on the other side of the meadow or something, and essentially escape the pain. Bradley teaches you to embrace the pain, concentrate on breathing deeply, imagine what's happening in your body to bring your baby into the world.  Instead of teaching you to run from the pain, Bradley encourages you to engage with it and let the pain work for you.  As you can tell, I only used the Lamaze method with kid#1 and it was a total disaster.  There is no getting away from the pain and all the trying made the whole process more painful.  I'm hyperventilating and breathing into a paper bag and hating everyone in the room!  With kid#2, the hospital nurses didn't believe me that I was in labor, because I was so calm and controlled (thanks to Bradley).  One of them said, "Well, I'll check you but I doubt you're even in labor."  I was 6-7cm. ha!  Everyone started moving a little faster after that.  Still, I was in immense pain and there was no getting away from it.  It hurts. But it's there for a good reason and in the end, something amazing and beautiful comes.

Suffering is inevitable.  We try to get away from it because it doesn't feel good to hurt.  But when I ran from it, I only hurt longer (and more intensely) as I boiled over in anger or panic.  So, I learned to let myself hurt.  And it was painful.  But in the hurt, I found Jesus.  I prayed my tears.  I forced myself to picture what the gospel looked like in that moment.  I was like a toddler all curled up and crying my eyes out.  Jesus would see me, pick me up in his strong arms and gently rock me.  I would cry and cry and he would sing and sing.  And eventually I found that I heard Jesus' singing louder than anything else and began to heal.

I miss those days. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

adoption


I’m filling in part time at Mend this summer.  Some of the staff need to get away for some vacation time.  Working at Mend can be draining.  It’s sweet, honest ministry to those in need – emotionally, physically, spiritually.  But, draining. 

Yesterday I answered the phone.

“If I get my daughter on the other line, do you have time to talk to us.  She’s 18 and pregnant”
“Of course.” (oh no!  These kinds of set-ups rarely go well)
“We just want to know what God thinks about abortion?”  

In 3 years of working at Mend, I don’t know if anyone ever asked me that question.  It was hard over the phone.  She couldn’t see my face, and I could only guess at how she was responding to what I had to say.   My guess was that she’s listening and hanging on every word.

Life is so very fragile in this moment.   And it’s left to… me?  Ugh.  I’m not ready.  I’m out of practice.  I can’t communicate this stuff over the phone to a stranger.  

We talk about life at conception.  Psalm 139 – “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Risks of abortion, both emotional and physical. 

Adoption?

This is the point when most girls shut me down, claiming that adoption is not an option for them.  I’ve had girls tell me they “don’t believe in adoption” and that they “could never give my baby away like that.”  They won’t “give away” a baby in adoption, but they’ll abort.  Ironic. 

But not this girl.  I had her.  

“Adoption is a beautiful thing.  It’s a picture of how God deals with us, too.  He brings us into his family – not because of anything good that we do, but because of his mercy.”

We talked for 10-15 minutes.   Eventually it became more about her own adoption by God than about the baby.  It was as if she finally heard the gospel for the first time.   Precious.

Premarital sex + unplanned pregnancy = salvation?  I don’t know.  And I don’t really get how that works, but… wow.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  ~ Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV

Thursday, June 14, 2012

psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

custody


Dividing things up during a divorce process is painful.  Of course, the first is the kids.  Nothing was scarier than the day I heard, “I want the kids to come live with me.”  Oh really?  I said, “Do you honestly think that’s best for the kids?”  “Yes, absolutely!”  I was stunned.  “I don’t believe you.  I don’t think that even you believe it’s best for these kids to leave Tulsa, their school, Redeemer….”  Not a happy conversation.  In the end, senses were regained (or overpowered?).  We kinda, sorta agreed to a plan.  ish.  Unbelievable.  Unbelievably painful consequences to really, really tragic decisions.  Those were the days in which I often said, “I’m living in the twilight zone and it’s getting comfortable in here.”  I didn’t think it would ever get better.  My friends said it would.  I didn’t believe them. 

But I’m not just talking about the kids.  There was the stuff.  Stuff isn’t that important to me.  OK, clarifying… my camera, my family’s 100 year old Victrola, my grandmother’s doughnut cutter – these are important.  But I can let go of the everyday stuff.  

Anyway we had to decide who would get custody of the stuff.  Much to the kids’ chagrin, I insisted he take the camping/kayaking stuff out of my sight.  I think my exact angry-moment words were, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in, on, around, or under this [stuff].”  (I may or may not have used more colorful, descriptive language at that moment.) Oh, that’s a whole ‘nother long story.  I kept the furniture except a table and our bed – the bed I helped design and he built.  I just didn’t want it any more. 

I miss some things that he got, though.  The tools.  I want to know that there’s a jig saw and a mitre saw in the garage in case I need them.  Which, honestly, I probably never will NEED need, but I could’ve used already.   And I miss the books.  This is messed up, I know, because I don’t even read much.  I have a huge stack of unread books my friends have recommended.  But, having a library of seminary and theology books is just comforting to me.  I don’t really know why.  It was very sad to pack them up and watch him haul them away.  Well, not all of them.  I snagged de Graff’s Promise and Deliverance volumes.  Don’t tell on me.

At one point, a friend said, “Well, at least you got custody of the friends.”  I guess I did, mostly.  There are a few who could never understand why I would be the one to file for divorce after he had changed his mind.  But, changing one’s mind and repentance are two entirely different things.  More on that another day maybe.

The morning that he walked out the door, I stood at the end of the bed and he stood in the doorway and said, “I don’t want to take anything away from you and the kids.”  I think he was talking about the stuff, but my head was swimming.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to scream.  I wanted to vomit and he was talking about the stuff.  Our life was apparently over and he’s thinking about the dining room table?  I didn’t care about any of it.  Whether he wanted to or not, he took plenty.  What he took away was our life -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, Christmases, camping, the beach.  None of it would ever be the same or normal.  This didn’t seem to matter in that most insane moment of decision.  But we feel it now.  

There is an abiding truth in all of this:  It doesn’t matter at all who gets custody of the stuff.  

What matters is this:  who gets custody of me?  Will Jesus have custody of my heart?   We have been through so much.  Do you know how easy it would be to stop caring about the gospel, grace or Jesus himself in favor of letting my heart be consumed with bitterness and anger.  Anger is power.  It’s easier to be angry than to experience deep hurt. Hurt is vulnerable and painful.  

From the early days until now, by the grace of almighty God, I chose to hurt.  I must do this.  Yes, I’ve been angry. I’ve been snide and sarcastic.  These are things to repent of.   If I had consistently chosen the bitter angry route, I would never have been able to stand at the communion table while my dear, repentant friend came back to the table months after offending me so deeply.  I would never been able to say, “I forgive you” to her and the man who took so much from me.  I said it, and I meant it.  It was a miracle.  It was a miracle of grace working itself out in my heart – the heart that Jesus is holding gently in his hand.