Archive for May, 2012


No Escape from Brokenness??

Previously I’d talked about my dissatisfaction with my own brokenness, and I left off at a point where God asked me to consider the “what if” of limping for the rest of my life. It was a profound question. What I wanted was out.  I wanted to escape the pain and struggle in my life. I wanted away from my problems, the things that I believed were to blame for my pain and anguish. I just didn’t want to hurt any more. I believed God could do all that for me. He healed that lady who bled for 12 years, right? Blind folks were seeing, dead people were living, and all kinds of crazy stuff happened. Why not me? Why couldn’t I have a similar miracle, a new life? What the heck was God doing, asking me an awful question like that?

By that time, I knew Him better than when I was a suspiciously minded teenager. I actually knew that love was worthwhile and believed Him to be good and to have my best interests in mind, so I didn’t throw a drink in His face and tell Him where to go. Instead, I thought about what He was saying. While I still upset about the question, at this point, I was also curious. It’s a good thing that I’m not a cat, and that God loves me. I’ve noticed that He frequently catches me by pricking my curiosity.

First off, He wasn’t telling me, “No way, Jose.” It was not a denial of my request. It was important for me to realize that. I’m sure I’d have thrown a more impressive temper tantrum, otherwise.

So He’s good, and He’s looking out for me, and He works things out for those who love Him, which ruled out crazy whim or caprice, too. He was not flexing or bullying or doing anything like that.

He’s also omniscient, right? God knows everything. If He did, that meant the questions He was asking weren’t particularly important for Him. If that was true, then they were probably more for my benefit. There was something meant for good in this situation for me. What could it be?

I thought about it. I still think about what good there could be in brokenness, and when I do, a passage that consistently springs to mind is Isaiah 53. It is well worth a thoughtful read, so I’m going to paste it in and leave you there until the next post. If you’d prefer NIV over the KJV, click on the Isaiah 53 link. Bible Gateway has many other versions, too.

Isaiah 53

King James Version (KJV)
53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Brokenness

Somewhere in my blog’s post section, there’s a blank post titled “Brokenness.” I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks, and I keep getting stuck. I’ve fallen asleep at night trying to form it. I’m sure I’ve walked down halls muttering to myself as I’ve wrestled with it. It’s been something of a pain. I can’t quite forget it, but I haven’t quite produced it, either. It’s important to me, though, so I’m going to keep trying.

A few years ago, I was definitely working through some stuff. In some ways, it was a great time in my life. God helped me do some serious cleaning up of my attitudes, emotions, habits, questions, and so on. I had baggage. I’m pretty sure nobody escapes their childhood without some (even good homes come with some!), and growing with abuse, neglect, and all that certainly marked me up. I had trouble trusting. I hated being touched. I was alienated from my emotions. The list goes on. God and some good friends helped me dig into that and deal with the causes, and the results were great. However, the process was absolutely awful. I was alienated from emotions for good reason. There was so much pain, fear, and other painful and scary emotions I’d  been shoving to the side that I somehow had to actually process and release. I hurt a lot. Most of the time, I wasn’t sure the pain was ever going to go away. It was overwhelming, and it went on and on and on.

I frequently thought about brokenness during this, especially as I hurt. I prayed about it a lot, because part of what was happening to me was having to face and accept my own brokenness, my lack of perfection. I wasn’t perfect. I’d really wanted to be perfect, though, and I’d tried hard to do and say and be all the right things so that I could be perfect. It wasn’t my fault that I had failed. I really did my best, and I talked to God about it all often. My prayers went something like, “God, I hurt. I hurt so much, and I’m not sure it’s ever going to end. I’m tired. I’m dysfunctional. I can’t do things the way they should be done. I’m just… screwed up.” I would sigh, pause, maybe cry a little. It was… Hard overly simplifies how I felt. I was frustrated. I was disappointed in myself, in God, in my circumstances, and in other people. I was in pain. I was frightened, because I was having to admit inadequacy, and I’d been taught that was a very dangerous thing to do. I didn’t know if I could or should have hope. I wanted to be better. Oh, my gosh, I just wanted so badly to be better and done, to be fixed, better, something – for it all to be over. I ached for that.

In not quite words and more than a feeling, God talked to me about that. He asked me a horrible question. Right in the face of my aching desire to be better, He asked me, “What if you don’t get better? What if healing for you doesn’t look like the removal of your brokenness? What if it’s not just gone, and you spend the rest of your life limping?”

The rest of my life? What would you do? How would you feel?

I think this is a good place to stop and wait and ponder, so I’ll see you later.

Excellence and Timothy

Silly me! I had this all set to post last week and forgot to actually post it! Last Wednesday night was actually April 25.

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Last Wednesday night was the last Awana meeting until next fall starts the cycle again, and per longstanding tradition, it was the Awards Ceremony. Somebody from my family is always there, because somebody in my family is always up for an award. This year was no different. Kalyn earned her Excellence Award, and Kimberly brought home a Timothy.

Awana, an acronym for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, is an international organization for young people aged 3 to the decrepit age achieved by high school seniors. Its purpose is to “lead kids worldwide to know, love and serve Christ.” It was started in 1941 to reach kids in the Chicago area and seems to have grown steadily since. I’d guess that’s due to Awana’s fun factor. Kids are absolutely encouraged to memorize Scripture and study the Bible, but there are also crafts, story times, and games every meeting. In fact, Awana clubs have the opportunity to meet regionally and compete against other clubs during organized events. Bible Quizzing matches are often featured alongside of the tug of war and various running races.

As I indicated in the first paragraph, my family has been involved with Awana for quite a while. I started, assuming my memory isn’t faulty, in 1st grade. I was a wee Sparky running about in my red vest, saying verses from my campout themed manual and earning tiny jewels for the bronze crown decorating my vest. Jacob was probably in Sparks, too, but I don’t really remember that. Not long after, my parents also got involved. They were the Cubbies (3-4 year olds kiddos) directors, and next thing you know, we were all church on Wednesday going to Awana. It took me a while to be terribly enthusiastic about it, like probably 3 years. I know my third grade book didn’t get finished in my third grade year. In fourth grade, however, I completed it and my fourth grade book, which made me the first one to earn an Excellence Award. That was probably in ‘84. Kalyn, as the youngest sibling, is the – hmm… – 9th one to win an Excellence. Other than the words, our trophies don’t look a bit alike. Even the Awana logo has been redesigned, but, given the gap in years, I suppose that’s only to be expected. I continued on my overachiever streak through the rest of my time in Awana, earning the Timothy, Meritorious, and Citation awards, along with various others. I also served as a leader and listened to youngeruns reciting their verses, and I even went to Scholarship Camp, an institution which, sadly, no longer exists. I was closely followed by my brother, sisters, and mother. I am very proud of them all!

Barring Award Ceremonies, I don’t go to Awana any more. In my “old age,” the tiny jewels that I was always managing to lose and the trophies seem a bit cheesy. My nostalgic moments get tinted with my recollection of how Awana was perfectly capable of being nothing more than another evangelical Christian religious program falling very short of actually inspiring kids to “know, love and serve Christ.” Despite the cheese and the overbearing of (my) religion, I’m glad I completed the program. I memorized hundreds of verses. I read through the whole Bible. I had to spend some time helping others. I went to the Games, Quizzing, and camp. I made good friends. None of that is enough to make me love Christ (in fact, as a kid, I was more concerned with not sinning than loving Christ, which I’d classify as religious), but having made up my mind to love Christ, those experiences and that knowledge have been of incalculable assistance. I think my other family members would say something similar.

That makes me hope that Kimberly and Kalyn will continue. There’s value in consistency, in finishing something that is sometimes hard and takes more than a day or a week or even a year to complete. There’s worth in knowing something of what the Bible says without always having to look it up. It’s fantastic to, especially as a child or young adult, have the experience of helping to meet the needs of others. I hope my little sisters do all of that, and I hope one day they get their Citations, too. I think if they do, they, too, will find they’ve learned some lessons early in life that serve them well later.

Congratulations, Kalyn! You are doing so well!

Way to go, Kimberly! You’re even more awesome than a plate of spaghetti!