Saturday, August 23, 2008

Acceptance = Submission

I've been in a funk of late, struggling to connect with God. I thought that it was because August has been such a crazy month. I've been on the road a lot and for the past couple of weeks Lucas' school has been closed as they prepare for the start of the next school year. So my summer, which to that point had been full but fruitful had in some ways been derailed - my routine disrupted. But a couple of days ago during a counseling session with my friend Sam I realized that this funk didn't happen because of a disruption in my routine but started on that night in Santa Barbara when I declared that I would trade my present for my past.

I realized that I had made a declaration that my present would never be good enough. No matter how God redeems and rebuilds and makes things new, it would never be good enough. In making this declaration, I put up a wall between me and God. I put up a wall and closed my heart to the one that has been with me in my suffering. I understood then that I have not accepted what has happened. Acceptance of what has happened and what my reality is now is hard. It has been, is, and will be my biggest act of faith. Acceptance is submission. But it is only in a posture of submission that any of us can receive from God. This is the battle that I must fight. And maybe it seems cruel that I have to fight for anything after what I've been through. It may seem that submission is bad. All of our human instincts fight against submission. If I choose to look at my situation as God forcing me to submit to Him, then I will struggle with Him. I will hate Him. But if I choose to look at submission as an opportunity to allow God in, and if I believe that He is good, then it will be a wise choice.

I'm learning that the past is a powerful force. For some of us, the past was so horrible that we are stuck in it. Abuse, neglect, loss, guilt, and shame keep us from being able to receive from the fully present God because they are rooted in the past and keep us stuck there. For others, the past was so wonderful that we cannot imagine that our present or future can compare. And so we close ourselves to the present God. This is the camp that I'm in. And this is the camp that I need to fight to get out of .

I have experienced God's presence in my life. But His presence in my past, even if it was just yesterday, is not enough to carry me through today. Even if my present is full of pain, I can have access to His presence if I choose. He offers to walk with me, one day at a time, if I will choose to abide in Him. But to abide, I must trust Him. I must submit.

Maybe there is a way that I can fully accept that my past life with Midi and Nathan was wonderful but is now gone. Maybe I can accept that to even consider trading the present for the past is not an option and so shouldn't be considered. And maybe I can accept what my life is now and I can choose to walk with God. And maybe I can escape the paradigm of comparison, or of cause and effect. Maybe I can be fully grateful for the past and the present. I don't know yet. But I'm wrestling with Him now, instead of building the wall.

Monday, August 4, 2008


"All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I've discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it." ... "I'm pretty sure that it is only by experiencing the ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed - which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace." (Anne Lamott from Traveling Mercies)

My life is good.

As I sat outside a beautiful house, in a beautiful garden, in beautiful Santa Barbara, with the presence of thousands of stars, with meteors splashing light across the night sky, I reflected on how good my life is. I have an amazing son, who I am able to love more deeply than before, who I take joy in, who is so fun to be around. I have deep, deep friendships with several men I can call brothers that have been growing stronger week by week. I am a part of a vibrant, alive community of faith, where people of every color and walk of life love each other and exist to include others. I am growing in my love for FOL as I give it more of my heart and receive more from them. I have parents (Midi's as well as my own) who I love deeply and who love me deeply right back. I have family that I'm growing closer to as we learn to walk together through pain. And I have some who are starting to get to know Jesus. This brings me great joy. I know Jesus as the present one, the one who is with me, who comforts me and brings me peace. I know this Jesus in ways that I did not know him before the accident.

As I sat outside mindful of how good my life is and what wonderful things are happening around me, I felt strongly in my heart that I would give it all back to have Midi and Nathan back in my life. There is something in this that seems perfectly natural - of course I'm supposed to feel this way! But as I cried and cried I wondered if there will be a point where I am able to fully embrace the blessings of my present life without comparing it to (and wanting to trade it for) my blessed life with them? And I feel guilty in saying this at this stage, but I hope there is. If the day ever comes, I cannot imagine that I can marry again or welcome another child while continuing to feel this.

I think that this is yet another example of how we must all live in the present. As much as I want to, I cannot have my past back. I can always have the love I feel for Midi and Nathan because love is organic; love is living. Love is very present. It is the life with them that I cannot have again this side of heaven. My past life with Midi and Nathan was so, so good. It was special. Though it wasn't perfect, it was perfect to me. But my present life is pretty good, too. And good things are happening all around me. I hope I can embrace the present, where God himself dwells, with completely open arms. And someday, I hope that I will accept the beauty of my past and the fact that it is gone so that I will stop feeling in my heart that I would trade the present for it.