Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heart break

Have you ever experienced emotional turmoil so bitter that it felt as though your heart was ripped from your chest leaving a sucking chest wound? And, to add insult to injury, your heart was then trampled, trashed and bruised while you helplessly watched the destruction.

I remember the first time I felt such angst was when my college roommate of 3 years left our dorm room for the final time. I was graduating the following day and knew that her departure was the beginning of the end. As her car pulled away, loaded with pillows and clothes, I grieved the loss of her friendship and the end of a sweet time in my life. I remember calling my mom and sobbing about how my chest hurt so much at the thought of saying bye to so many people and experiences, and that I didn't think I could make it.

Today, I experienced the same feelings of anguish and despair so bitterly that I again wondered whether I would make it. Brandon visited with his birth mother today for the second time, and each time he meets with her I wonder whether he'll return the same little boy that left my arms. Mike is angry and frustrated with the situation, and I'm trying to be sympathetic, strong and understanding for him. On top of this, I'm not sleeping well and my grandmother tried to commit suicide yesterday.

I try to cheer myself by reminding myself that there are people in the world who have it much worse than myself, and that this to shall pass. But there are times when the weight is so heavy and the burden so distressing that I do wonder when will it pass and when will the storm end.

Not to lament too much, I want to end with lyrics to a song that have been comforting me today. I can't remember the singer's name, but I remember his words of solace:

"Sometimes He calms the storm with a whispered 'Peace be still'
He can settle any sea, but it doesn't mean that He will.
Sometimes He holds us close while the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Identifying with Lieutenant Dan

One of my favorite movie scenes is in Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan latches on to a ship's mast and curses God during a hurricane. You can hear years of pent up anger and disappointment spew from the lieutenant's heart as he screams, rants, challenges and defies God. It's understandable given the rotten hand life has dealt him: crippled, alone, jobless, hopeless and abandoned.

My favorite thing about this scene, though, is what doesn't happen. God doesn't strike Dan with a lightening bolt, nor does He shove Dan off the mast with a gust of wind. He doesn't respond with anger, impatience, fury or power. He simply waits and listens for Dan to finish, and then He brings calm to the storm.

I feel like I've been going through my own Lieutenant Dan battle: screaming at God, pushing Him away, questioning His character/words, crying with fury laced tears at His injustice and impotence. Secretly I think I expected Him finally to snap and push me away, too. But He didn't. I'm beginning to understand that His grace and mercy sometimes are greatest when He allows my storm to rage to a point of exhaustion before He brings His calm.

It's in that place of battle-weary surrender that I finally hear Him whisper to my soul: Even in this, will you trust me?

But my God says I’m right …

I just love it when Christians use the Bible as a weapon to divide and conquer rather than an instrument for healing and uniting. This story come courtesy of abcnews.com:

Mary Lambert, 81, has been a member of the First Baptist Church in Watertown, N.Y., for 60 years. She had her wedding on the premises, raised her kids in its halls and taught Sunday school at First Baptist for more than five decades.

But she recently received a letter from the church board notifying her that the board had voted unanimously to dismiss her from her post.

The letter referred to her sex as one of the reasons for her dismissal, quoting the Bible's First Epistle to Timothy, which states: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent."

The church's pastor stands by his decision.

"I believe that God has a very special role for men and women within the church setting and many people look at it as exclusionary, but I don't view at it that way," Tim LaBouf, First Baptist's pastor, said.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Who is God and what is faith?

For months I’ve been kicking around the thoughts regarding God and faith and what it all means. I’ve been a member of a Faith church for 5 years now and I’ve come to accept what they preach as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Things like, “God always heals if you just have the faith” and “God always provides for your needs” and “the promises of God are yes and amen.” The flipside to this belief is the thinking that if things don’t go according to plan then obviously it’s the fault of the believer. Maybe they didn’t have true faith or maybe there’s some hidden sin that prevented God’s promises from coming forth. When my father-in-law died 2 years ago I was told it was because he had lived an unhealthy life full of mayonnaise and cigarettes, so no amount of prayers could have saved him.

A few weeks ago a 5-month-old little girl died despite the prayers of 200 Faith believers. I would have thought that out of 200 or so people at least one of them would have had the right faith. And the baby was too young to have committed any hidden sins. So why wasn’t she healed? I was told that now is not the time to ask why but to pray for those who are grieving.

But here’s my dilemma: why pray if we’re not sure God will answer? If God arbitrarily decides who He’ll hear and bless then how can I have faith I’ll be the one He hears? And if I don’t have faith then what’s the point of voicing my petitions to begin with?

I know God is compassionate and I know He has helped me in the past. But I know of times when He hasn’t helped, too, and I’m having difficulty trusting any of His promises when it seems He has failed to abide by one.