Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today I received an anonymous letter in the mail from someone who was clearly offended by something I had written a couple weeks ago about Christian Faith Center and the church in general. It’s something I want to address, but because that person did not sign the letter, I have no choice but to respond here. So, if you had no strong opinions about what I posted, please don’t waste your time reading this! :-)What I had written about the church being made up of “weird people” was lighthearted, and I was including myself in that bunch. Sometimes I think we should all just take ourselves a little less seriously. And, I think it’s important that non-Christian don’t see us as “having it all together”…that’s all. And, as far as Christian Faith Center, I know that God uses that facility and church body to do great things. My observation was my initial reaction to the size of the structure and the bookstore, and, honestly, I don’t agree theologically with some of the things that are taught from the pulpit. That’s okay. It wasn’t intended to be a slam at CFC or anyone who attends there, and I’m sorry that you found my thoughts offensive. If you’re going to join me on this journey that I’m walking, and especially if you know me personally, please trust my heart behind my words instead of getting tangled up in the words themselves. But, I am sorry that I offended you. I wish I could apologize personally.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I had a patient come into the office where I work as a nurse last week with concerns of depression. I took her back to the exam room, and we began to talk. She was elderly and so sweet. In her hands, she gripped and handkerchief, occasionally running her fingers through the fabric. She told me that just 8 weeks prior she had had to bury her husband of 48 years. Her daughter was anxious for her mom to be back to her normal self, so she had brought her to see a doctor to be started on an antidepressant. The patient said calmly, “I know I’m doing okay. I adored my husband, and I miss him terribly. I’m grieving, and grief takes time. I’m only here to appease my daughter and check it off the list.”
I told that sweet lady that I thought she was doing okay, too. And then I had to take a time-out in the casting room in the back of the office because all I wanted to do was to go find that patient’s daughter in the waiting room and give her a piece of my mind.
Now, I’m not saying that it's wrong to try to help someone through their sorrow, and antidepressants are not a bad way to go when you’ve experienced a tragedy. I have said for the past five months that if I really thought I needed something, I would have no problem asking for it. But, this woman had just lost her husband! And I had this overwhelming feeling that this woman’s daughter wanted her mom to be “fixed” as quickly as possible simply because grief is unpleasant.
And, I understand that…it makes other people feel awkward when you’re grieving. They calculate everything they say to you. You’re the downer in every conversation. People want to help because they hate to see you hurting, and they're frustrated when they can’t. Some people who I knew well before Zachary died still avoid eye contact with me! And, so many times after we said good-bye to our boy, well-intentioned people would say, “You guys will have children sooner than you think, I just know it.” First of all, you can’t know that…maybe that’s not at all what God has planned for us. And, second, right after losing my child, thinking about having another was only scary and painful. But, in their minds, if I were pregnant and had something to look forward to all over again, maybe I wouldn’t be so consumed by sadness. Subconsciously, it was a way of rushing me through the pain.
Why are we so uncomfortable with brokenness? Why are we so determined to speed others through their pain? Just because grief makes us feel helpless? Awkward?
My patient was right: Grief takes time! It’s okay! It doesn’t mean someone is “stuck” in their grief if they still miss their loved one or still cry sometimes 8 weeks or 6 months later. It just takes a while to learn how to live again because life is so, very different. And it takes a little patience, both as the griever and as the family and friend of the person who’s grieving. Grief takes time for true healing to occur. It’s okay. Really. It is.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Things that bother me these days –
-The fact that I dusted the changing table and crib and rocking chair in Zachary’s room today because they’ve never been used.
-Being the only woman in a room without a baby or a baby belly and feeling obligated to make conversation. It makes me sad, jealous, uncomfortable.
-The ache in my chest that never seems to leave. And the fear that still grips me on a very regular basis.
-Wondering if I'll ever be able to hold a child of my own again.
Things I love these days –
-People who say Zachary’s name when talking with me instead of ‘your baby,’ or worse, ‘the baby.’ I don't think I can describe how important and healing it is to hear his name spoken aloud in conversation.
-Those who have given me a book on grief or pregnancy loss after reading it themselves, even if they haven’t personally experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. It's such an incredible gesture of love.
-The number of people who remind me that they didn’t forgot about us or our sweet baby, especially around the 17th of each passing month. Every "17th" hurts as though the nightmare is happening all over again. To receive a call or text or note or hug is so helpful.
-When someone asks to see a picture of Zachary. This is one of my favorite things in the world!
-When someone is willing to be vulnerable and cry with me, or share their story of loss.
-When someone tells me that Zachary's life has challenged them to question their belief in God or pursue their already-existing relationship with God or loosen their grip on the things of this world or be a better friend, spouse, or parent to their living children.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I wrote this like 6 weeks ago, but I couldn't post it until today. Such an exciting adventure coming our way!
I was in such a slump this week. I just wanted to be home by myself, and I hate feeling like that. I wasn’t a hermit, though. I picked up extra hours at work, got some major cleaning done at home, worked out, watched my sisters play volleyball, and had friends over to hang out this weekend. I’ve just never had to be so intentional about staying motivated and being emotionally open.
I found my feelings to be especially odd this week because God answered a major prayer…I was finally okayed for a position as a part-time worship leader at our church, and I’m truly humbled to have such an awesome opportunity to obey God doing something that I love. We’re launching a campus extension of our church in just a few weeks, and it’s thrilling to be part of an undertaking that’s so big, that I know it will totally flop if God’s not driving our efforts. Pretty awesome.
I have always felt very strongly that, if God blesses us with an ability, we have a responsibility to invest it fully in a way that pleases Him…not for our own recognition, but solely for the purpose of honoring God and pointing others in His direction. Investing…it reminds me of the parable that Jesus told about the talents. Talents were the currency that was used at that time. Here’s the passage:
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately, the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the grounds and hid his master’s money.” (Matthew 25:15-18)
I can just picture the third guy with a shovel in his hands, digging that dumb hole…afraid he might lose the money…afraid that investing that money might require a little too much of his time, effort, etc. The rest of the parable goes on to say that, when the master came back to see what each slave had done with what they had been given, the first two were commended for investing. The third slave came to the master, shoulders slumped, staring at the ground, and said (this is all my paraphrase), “I got scared, so I buried my talent in the ground, but at least you can have back the little that you gave me.” The master doesn’t like that answer, calls the man lazy, and takes his talent away from him. Verse 29 says, “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”
Investing. What a huge responsibility it is…and what a privilege. I’m so, so thankful for this ‘talent’ that God’s given to me in this new adventure at church. I feel very unworthy to participate in God’s work in this way.
But are the ‘talents’ that Jesus refers to in His parable only the good things that we’re given by God? Just skills, abilities, gifts?
What if the ‘talents’ God gives us are not so great…a disability, a shameful past, the loss of a baby… If those are also ‘talents’ that God asks that we invest, then I’d be lying if I said that the shovel didn’t sound appealing at times. I’d rather bury my hurt…keep it to myself…lock it up and try to forget.
But I know, that when I stand before God after this life is over, and He looks me straight in the eye and asks me what I did with what He has given me, I want Him to be proud. Proud of my honesty, proud of the conversations that have come out of our loss, proud of my dependence on Him when I don’t know what to do with my brokenness. Pleased with the way that I’ve tried with all my might to praise Him through this pain. This ‘talent’ is much more challenging to invest than the good ‘talents’. But I’ll keep thanking God for each opportunity He gives me. After all, life is short…the good stuff will be over before we know it, and the bad stuff is so, very temporary.
Last night we went to the David Crowder concert at the Christian Faith Center. Here were a few observations on the night:
- The church is made up of a bunch of weird people. I guess that’s an open invitation! :-)
- The Christian Faith Center and Casey Treat SO rub me the wrong way. They have a bookstore in their mammoth multi-million dollar structure with an entire section (like most of the store) of Casey and Wendy Treat books on health, wealth and prosperity – as if God is a genie waiting to grant us our three wishes. It really bothers me when people exploit the gospel and use it for their own profit. I hate that people who don’t believe in God see public leaders like that as a picture of Christianity. That’s not what it’s about. But, Scripture says that God uses the foolishness of men to accomplish His purposes, so if He can use the fool typing this right now, then He can work through (and sometimes, despite) any of us.
- When I raised my hands to clap above my head, my arms jiggled. That will be all the motivation I need to work out this week.
- And, finally, the important stuff…best lyrics of the night: “After all falls apart, He repairs, He repairs.” (David Crowder, The Glory of It All). Redemption – the heart of the gospel, and God’s heart for us. I can’t believe how many women tell me on a weekly basis that they’ve lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth or struggled with years of infertility. I believe that God can…and more than that, LOVES...to redeem the horrific, seemingly helpless situations in our lives and make them something beautiful! So, all of you ladies whose goal pants are maternity jeans and hearts' desires are contentment and healing, believe that with me today! God is a God of redemption…”after all falls apart, He repairs.”