Friday, September 29, 2006

step one of 12

As foolish as it may seem, and yet not to a person who values control in her life, I really don't have control of what happens. That's a broad statement, so I need to qualify what I mean. I'm thinking in reference to Sunday, trying to glean a lesson from an event that in my mind could be classed as pointless and unnecessary. I really love a quote I read recently, "If God is your co-pilot, you had better change seats". On Sunday I wanted to see my son and I was too sick to see him. Knowing the opportunity only came monthly, or was difficult to arrange at another time, I tried to control my sick body and whip it into shape. I took a shower, made coffee, made the bed, all at 5am, thinking my daily routine would help me shake off the lake in my head, the nausea, the dizziness, sweaty palms, the sinking feeling that I could not overcome my body's foolish symptoms. I simply could not be sick on a visitation day. Then there was overcoming my will to go for the sake of my family. First accepting I had no control over my body led me to the next conclusion-to live in denial of the puking I would probably do in the car and the misery I would cause my family was selfish if I did go. And then finally, facing the fact that I had to lie in bed alone, not fulfilling deep and right desire, one that I SHOULD be entitled to was the hardest battle of all. I then faced my frustration, sadness and rage alone.

The other thing I seemed to have no control over were the tears I shed-that sounds too polite. It was a tsunami of ripping grief from the bottom of my soul right out my mouth, loud, unrelenting sobbing. The longing that I was experiencing was to go unfulfilled, and I had to make peace with it, but once again, not without feeling the need...the need to mother, the need to be with my boy, the need to give out to him and receive his presence myself. I could not stop the rush of passionate and intense pain I was experiencing. I thought afterward that this must have been what professional funeral mourners were like, at least outwardly, but once again, for someone who prides herself on propriety and control in all circumstances, it was as real as it gets, like a flood dashing down a sea wall. The storm slowly abated during the day, but it still rained off and on all morning.

In the end, and then from the beginning, I was forced to turn my attention to God. After the worst was over, I went for a walk to get some air and to pray, or try to pray. I felt as empty as an abandoned house. The door was gone, the shutters crooked, cobwebs everywhere, no life at all inside. I tried to talk to Him, but the words were so hollow. I think there was anger there, at Him, and embarrassment that I felt that way. I've been at this too long to blame God for circumstances, and yet there seemed no earthly reason for this. And that I should be expected to bear it like a good soldier, understanding and thanking Him? I had to go back to the Psalms, to the men who poured their souls out in horrible and trying times..."I am like a lonely bird on a rooftop", "my strength evaporates like dew in the morning sun", "My couch is drenched with my tears"...Slowly, so slowly, like rain clouds clearing away, my heart did begin to find strength as I allowed His comfort to come.

At the end of the day I had the strength to do my daily Bible study, and the lesson was on the crucifixion. I have read that saints and mystics of old, like Julian of Norwich, set their full attention on Christ's passion. If we have no knowledge of His sufferings, we cannot understand our own place in His will-more correctly, we cannot know HIM. We are actually commanded to do this, lovingly, and in all honesty, I would not choose this path. I would control myself right away from suffering. But I find so often now that suffering reveals an intimate aspect of God I would not know any other way. The bare and undeniable truth is that He suffered at all. How does God suffer? More than we ever could, because we are only tiny reflections of everything that He is. He is ever creating us in His likeness and image, and the most human and godly part of Christ was the giving up of His own rights, leaving control in the hands of the Father. Can I do less?


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