Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Valley of Tears

Okay, I know I said I would blog about the Love Dare, and yes, I am still doing that, but I have to kvetch about something else today. This is open-heart time, so here, watch me spill it.

Some people will surely hate the semantics of this, but I've been trying to be a Christian. I am trying to find a place back to where I can say I trust God and love Him and believe that He loves me. But I do get stuck on what has happened to me in the past. Once bitten, twice shy. Sometimes, I get stuck on what happens to other people, even people I don't actually know. And so this is just what has happened recently.

A person I "know" only in the cyber-sense, whom I will call "Sue", has longed for a daughter for years. She posted last Christmas about her longings for a daughter and how infertility and difficulties with adopting have made this a longing that remains unsatisfied. Just before Christmas this year, however, an opportunity dropped in her lap. It looked like her prayers would be answered with this "Christmas miracle" and she would be able to adopt a baby girl. I hoped along with her. For her dream to come true would vicariously validate my own dreams of having another child. It would be a strong point in God's favor for the ol' "God is Good" column.

So, for a few days, we on the board were hoping along with Sue, waiting to witness a miracle. But when Sue showed up on the board, it was to say how it looked like the adoption was not going to happen. Her pain was palpable.

I completely get how this hurts. Her question is my question. Why does God stir things up, only to disappoint? Why does He seem to start something if it's not going to end well? I ask this all the time. Why do I long for another child? Am I wrong to long for another child, when it would take a miracle for me to have one? Am I wrong to give up hope, on the other hand, and admit that it just isn't in the cards? Is it selfish to want more kids? Or is it faith, the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," in action?

This is why I can't get over the "trust and love" hurdle. Trust and love is natural if the object of your trust and love evidently is trustworthy. When you only get hurt in return, how can trust and love be expected? Honestly, these are times when the Christian walk looks to me like bad advice given to battered women. "Stand by your man! Remember the commitment you made! Deep down, he really loves you!"

I am currently reading The Promise by Father Jonathan Morris. This line jumped right out at me today:

Religious faith is not blind. It is not irrational. It is about trusting and loving someone we have come to know. If you haven't come to know Jesus personally and as a providential God - one who is on our side - it is irrational to put your trust in him.

This is really the crux of the whole thing for me. I did come to know Jesus personally, but it does not look like God is on my side, therefore it is irrational to put my trust in Him. This is not quite how Father Morris meant it, but that is why it is a problem for me. I really, really wanted to see things work out miraculously for Sue on the internet community. It would give me hope.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Love seeks not its own

The third day's dare is related to selfishness. Honestly, I think this one concept could be mined 365 days a year. We all have selfish tendencies. Some, more than others. Even when you complain about how selfish another person seems to be in your eyes, you are ironically demonstrating your own selfishness. If you say, "I don't like that that person doesn't pay better attention to me, what I need and want, isn't interested in me or my kids..," you are actually revealing your own selfishness, the selfishness you are projecting on the other person. It's almost funny.

Today's Dare goes like this:

Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It's hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says, "I was thinking of you today."

I'm one step ahead on today's dare, actually. Yesterday, I was at Costco and I looked for the 17th time at the huge slab of beef tenderloin my husband has wanted me to buy for about 10 months. He had been to a party where they sliced one into steaks and he raved about how good they were. Only, I always balk on it, because that hunk of meat is never less than $60.00. The meat is $16 a pound! When I tell you that my bargain-hunting typical limit to pay for meat is $2 a pound, my dilemma will be revealed. Nevertheless, I caved this time and bought the tenderloin for Kelly, so he would be happy.

In my case, I would say a more relevant dare would be the first part, "...time, energy...". Really, it's not much skin off my nose to buy Kelly something. In most cases, he would rather me not buy something. But my time and energy - now there's a sacrifice that could get my attention. So, I'm tailoring the dare to sacrifice my time and energy this evening.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Love is Kind

Today's Dare:
In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

I agree with today's dare, but to be honest, I'm a little stumped on carrying it out. Our marriage doesn't want for kindness. Nothing is really springing to mind that I could do today that would be kind and unexpected. I'm open to continue to look for the opportunity, however.

Yesterday's dare worked out fine. I don't think I said anything negative to my spouse yesterday. Honestly, it is more of a challenge with my kids, because I am with them continuously. I can name many more instances where I had to work for patience in communicating with my kids.

One unexpected gesture as an act of kindness...hmmmm. I will have to let it marinate a little while.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love is Patient...

I don't watch many movies. I find it difficult to commit two hours of my exceedingly small amount of free time to watching a movie when there are so many books to be read. But I've been meaning to watch the movie "Fireproof" for a long time, and so I put it in my Netflix queue and it finally arrived. So, after it sat on my nightstand for three weeks, I finally decided to watch it and invited Kelly to watch it with me.

It really was time well-spent. While I don't have a troubled marriage, I can see the benefit of The Love Dare, and the spiritual message of the movie did get to me. Wouldn't it be a lovely Christmas gift, to my husband, my children and even to myself, to follow the challenge of The Love Dare?

Day One of the Dare deals with Patience. Here is the Dare: The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often refect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and say nothing negative to your spouse (I'm adding kids) at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret." From The Love Dare, by Alex Kendrick.

I know that true, sustainable patience and love only comes from a deep connection to The Source of Love. I'm not too picky about names, but I call that God.

I had an experience once of profound, unconditional love. It was supernatural; divine. I had been reading a book by Max Lucado, I think it was called Just Like Jesus. There was a part in the book where Lucado talked about challenging yourself to continually place your focus on God, to constantly throughout the day bring your mind back to God. I was intrigued by it, so I tried it. For several days, I constantly brought my mind back to thoughts such as this: "Fill me with the Love of Jesus. Bring me to Your Will."

About a week into this practice, I was to attend an event with some people whom frankly, I didn't much like. They cussed a lot and drank too much and I usually barely tolerated being in their company. Strangely, though, when I met up with these people, I began to think they looked beautiful. I thought, (alias used here) "Sam looks really good tonight. I've never known him to look so nice." or "Look at Sue. She seems very pretty. I never realized she was so pretty." It sounds a little spooky and esoteric, so bear with me, but it dawned on me that I was seeing them as God sees them. Their bad language didn't bother me, their loud laughter didn't grate on me. I just felt unrestrained love towards them.

With such an experience behind me, one wonders why I didn't continue the practice. I'd be well into nirvana by now, I think! This was a while ago, though; before my trial by fire, before I lost what was most precious. I have not been patient or loving much since Lydia died. In the first day of The Love Dare, it says, "Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don't get what you want and you start heating up inside." Boy, is that ever true. I still have a lot of anger over losing Lydia. And I still have so much confusion over the spiritual meaning of that loss. When I hear people say things like, "God is faithful." or "God answers prayers.", my immediate reaction is to think, "That is not true." How can I feel otherwise? To what else does the evidence point?

I would like to tap again that Divine Love. It is beautiful, so lovely and beautiful to behold. I want that to flow out of myself, but I know it won't unless I reconnect with it's Source. And I am so afraid to trust. It has all come to nothing before, why should it be different now?

But I know I cannot be the wife and mother I want to be without it. I cannot fulfil even Day One of the Dare if I don't attempt to get back there. I will try but I am very uncertain.