Crying on the Phone

Called JM tonight and had chance to really reach out with God’s heart for him and really feel a lighter burden for the moment. Took a moment for chit chat about how things are for us just so the lead in would seem more natural. when I asked him how he was doing he admitted pretty quickly that things weren’t going that well. Slowly he started sharing how hard it’s been to feel unity with Jen. It was going well over the summer and then issues came up again over their church and everything seemed to go sideways again. I can see that their vulnerable beginnings at unity and trust are under great fire and must be upheld in prayer.

Then he said that it’s hard for him to call family and talk about it cause he doesn’t want to unload such negative stuff. I asked him pretty bluntly, “why is it hard to call your family Jon-Marc?”  At that point he started sobbing and choking out the words, “because I feel like my marriage is failing. It’s been so hard for so long…and I don’t know what to do about it.” Before he got more than 5 words out I began sobbing too and I’m sure he was hearing me to. It seems that whatever efforts he is trying to make to seek God and initiate spiritual leadership or direction are resisted, assuredly because there is so little trust between them. Even his desire to remain engaged in worship leading is called into question because it seems hypocritical…and yet it’s the very thing he needs to connect with God and find solace for his soul. Of course Jen carries such hurt and betrayal by Jon-Marc that it feels too hard to support him when she is dying inside. He mentioned that they seem to continually bring out the worst in each other.

I was able to review some of the reflections about boarding school that God seems to be bringing to my attention, the conversation recently with mom and dad, my regrets over not standing against my classmates in Jon-Marc’s defense, my sorrow over needing to find my own way without guidance and not really being proud of my choices. I cried again as I told him my conviction that as the youngest it would have been hardest on him…that already he had a lot to overcome in his sense of being cherished and loved. I told him that I felt he needed to know that God felt grief over what he had to go through and so did I…that he needs permission to grieve himself over things that have affected his sense of value and worth, right from the womb. It wasn’t right and wasn’t God’s intent for him. We both sobbed some more…grown men falling to pieces like children. But it feels right.

He said that everything rang true for him and several things were coming to mind that validated it even as I spoke but the reason it would have been hard for him to come to the conclusion that there were was anything wrong with that experience was that it was so much a part of him that it would feel like admitting that there was something intrinsically wrong with him. And boarding school became an experience of significant value to him.

I talked about the need to feel God’s protective love and grief for him so he didn’t see God sitting in critical judgment over him in his mistakes with this marriage. He needs to allow this for himself if he will be able to start healing from the real fears and insecurities that assault him. He acknowledged that he has always found it impossible to withhold argument or defensiveness when he feels misunderstood. I felt that it was not so much a need to be understood as it was to prove that he was worth hearing, worth loving, and worth cherishing. I told him how precious he is as a person and son of God…that I really believe that although I thank God for the gifts he has given me in creativity, I think the call that God has on Jon-Marc will have much more far reaching impact in the kingdom of God than what my own life will achieve. Of all us children it was about Jon-Marc’s life that God spoke a sense of promise to our mother. Again, I cried as i spoke to him the incredible value of his life.

Lord, I trust you will continue to draw out of Jon-Marc the story that needs to be reviewed and understood from the standpoint of your great compassion and cherishing love of a child that didn’t receive these things at his most vulnerable time, the very commencement of life. It is not needlessly digging through the closet of the past in attempt to find old bones that don’t exist but a true re-viewing of a life from a perspective that is not easily found in our human relationships…from God’s perspective

Caleb blows up the cream

Caleb decides to toast himself some leftover waffles for a late breakfast this morning. He goes to help himself to the whip cream dispenser assuming that he knows how it works…after all he’s seen people hold it upside down and pull the trigger lots of times. He doesn’t ask for help cause “he’s got this.” I’m doing dishes beside him and next thing I know there’s a loud hissing noise accompanied by whipped shrapnel scattering all over the kitchen. I start by shouting out “what on earth are you…” and see him with a stunned look on his face and whip cream all over the place and can’t help laughing. We have a good laugh and then I give him the rag to clean it up…the fridge, the stove, the floor, the cabinets, the counters, the fruit etc.

Can’t help but see an analogy here of how we often think we understand a situation or a person because it resembles something we’ve seen before or looks familiar. It takes maturity to understand how little we really know for sure and the need for humility as we continually ask God to show us how to do things with his wisdom, “the right way.”

Sorting throught the MK closet

How is it that we can make it so far in life as missionary kids feeling that we’ve escaped the negative baggage that seems to have plagued many of the OTHER missionary or pastors kids only to find out at 40 that there are behaviors that are rearing up that may be connected to suppressed grief coming from those very experiences that I praise for making me who I am. And then I defend to my spouse who is lovingly pointing out what she’s observing that my boarding school experience was God’s plan for us and was not something that caused any doubt in our parent’s love for us…therefore she’s not understanding or “getting the situation.”

I’ve come to realize with Kendra that if I get too caught up in the details of what Kendra is saying I can miss the forest for the trees. Often the scenario that she reads or interprets isn’t what I see and the conclusions can seem misdirected, especially about my own life, but there’s always something bang on in what she’s seeing that is revelation from God. I’m learning to feel less threatened and just join in the hunt and let God preserve what is worth keeping and cast off what needs to be let go of. She can say something like “it’s not God’s natural design for families to send their kids away at such vulnerable ages.” Then I feel an emotional scramble going on inside to defend our experience as somehow “different” than the norm.

The bottom line is that our boarding school experience was something that God lead us to as perhaps the best path available to us given the limitations of the fallen world we live in. God doesn’t seem to just override all the negative circumstances that surround the place of His calling for us and just because he called us there it doesn’t mean we will sail through without cost, even great cost. But I do believe that it is something that will result in potentially the greatest glory to his name in our lives and is something he will redeem for good. But this won’t happen if we dismiss the grief and pain to try to defend His name. I’m sure God appreciates the sentiment but he’s not that insecure about his own work in our lives, i.e.”Oh no, I overlooked those details and how much that might mess up these kids’ lives. Gee I hope no one figures this out cause it could make me look bad.” In truth we may have bad theology that makes us feel the need to defend God here. It might be our theology that needs to change and not our “coloring” of the events of our lives. Are we secure enough in the loving nature of God to tell the whole story of our lives in “truth”…to celebrate the great kindness of God and yet relate the pain that is common to all human existence. God seems to have always gotten along best with those who have learned how to come to Him in honesty and truth. There can be little integrity to our lives and our testimonies if we deal with the complex unresolved questions in our hearts by throwing a large blanket over the whole experience and label it “evidence that God loves me.” Rather, I believe the more appropriate label we should be placing there is “To The Glory of God.” Under this banner there is room to wrestle with our experience, to cry out in anguish, to question God if this is necessary, and then to take His hand in the midst of it and learn to lean on his presence for faith and emotional strength to walk faithfully. If we didn’t know how to take his hand very well back then, He’s able to take us back to that place and help us get honest and walk through our fears and pain as adults later on.

But if we don’t get real about things and give up our fear of unsettling our confidence in God then we continue to “try” to defend God in our way, with our own reasoning and end up simply trying to prove to others that “God really does love me” in order to hide the deeper insecurity about this question, something too frightening to face. We are left to build our own human defenses and adopt a defensive stance towards life and relationships…especially those close to our vulnerable “self”. When we rely on our own defenses to guard the vulnerable self we can experience nothing of the comfort of Christ that would come to the weak and the broken. He does not come to the strong and self-sufficient (even if he knows it’s just a false front) but to the weak who seek him in “truth”. The real kicker is that we can’t even see what the truth is in our own experience unless he reveals it to us. All the more reason it is pointless to come to our own defense. Rather we make our appeal to Him to show us what we need to see and redeem what can be redeemed, cast off what is broken rubble.

this is what I’m asking the Holy Spirit to do. To sift through my experiences of missions, family and boarding school and to bring to light any grief and pain that has not been healed by his hand and is still present below the waterline. I’m beginning to believe that this has indeed been there below the surface and has repeatedly surfaced to rob my joy in Christ, has brought anxiety into my relationship with God, left me with tools of criticism, comparison, deflection and pride which bring only guilt.

Perhaps in His mind He saw it as the best place available to us to work in our lives and knew he could perserve our faith in Him until the day many years later when He would more fully heal the areas of pain and disappointment that would result. He doesn’t seem to be afraid to lead us through pain or need to justify why He would do that if He really is a God of Love. He always IS love and cannot be anything else…it is only us people that are still trying to settle the matter in our own minds and feel the need to interpret events and circumstances in order to prove or disprove our assumption about God. “If God is good and He lead us to this boarding school, then I shouldn’t have to deal with any pain and disappointment from that experience. That would be to doubt His Sovereignty or sufficiency or, God forbid, the “goodness” of His nature.

Sweet memories

Caleb and I went to Imago for the 11:00 service yesterday and then hung out a bit in Portland afterwards. We looked in a few windows and popped into the art store. Caleb was allowed to pick a pen to take home. He looked around at all the pens for a few minutes and then let out a big sigh like he had a huge burden to wield. Such a big decision for a young boy. We hunted around for Pizza Schmizza as it started to rain harder. Caleb is such a fun little sidekick to hang out with. I told him I thought he was the best son in the world and I just loved getting to hang out with him. He smiled big and said he loved hanging out with me too and kept thanking me for taking him out for Pizza.

After that we went to see David’s new apartment and I ended up staying to help him build his IKEA furniture. Stayed there around 5 hours and built 3 pieces of furniture (made the bed with David). After having such a good time with Caleb I was eager to hang out with the family that evening…also knowing that Kendra had been up the 2 previous nights with sick Caitlyn. But I sensed it was important that I stay and put in a few extra miles with David so he understood my heart for him. I could feel the Lord’s pleasure in it also, which makes it even an added blessing.

Notes on Revelation – Brian Buhler

How should it be read?

Reading Revelations leads to many problems when try to interpret it literally and look for one to one equivalences in our modern times, i.e. this person is the anti-Christ, this describes this country, etc. Revelations is Apocalyptic literature (like Narnia books), which means that it transports you to another universe in order to help you better understand your own universe.

Eugene Peterson says,”I do not read Revelations to get additional information about the life of faith. I have read it all before in the previous 65 books of the Bible. The Revelation adds nothing of substance to what we already know. The truth is in the Gospel and it has already been made complete in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject.”

“But…there’s a new way to say it. I read the revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination. St. John uses words the way poets do, recombining them in fresh ways so that old truth is freshly perceived. He takes truth that has been eroded into platitude by careless usage and sets it in motion before us in an animated and impassioned dance of ideas.”