Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miracle in the Midst

I wrote the following piece at the beginning of February shortly before I deleted my "Laughing Always Helps" blog. I decided to re-print it after reading Trisha's response to my post on Sunday.

I’m not one of those Christians that regularly uses the traditional “Christian speak.” I understand it but choose not to use it much. I was not raised in a “Christian” home. My parents weren’t anti-Christian but God was not spoken of. They did allow me to go to church with others if I wanted to and they even went to an occasional Easter service or Christmas program. For whatever reason, from a young age I was drawn to it.

God doesn’t speak to me, at least not in an audible way. When I pray I am not usually flooded with peace that passes understanding. When I read my bible I often do not understand what it means. Sometimes when I am reading my bible I am blown away as things become clear. However, I don’t sit down with the Lord every morning with a cup of tea and have meaningful communion with Him. I do pray and read my bible, sometimes with great regularity. I also have times where that is missing from my life.

Close to ten years ago I had a major crisis of faith. I was very involved in our church. It was very small and I was in charge of Sunday school for the kids. There wasn’t a specific curriculum that met our needs so I started writing the lessons myself. I was experiencing a lot of inner turmoil and only wanting to feel a sense of peace. I would cry out to the Lord when I was alone and beg Him to please just fill me with peace. My prayers would go unanswered.

I began to feel like the kid in the children’s story about the Emperor who had no clothes. People who used the “Christian speak” began to annoy me greatly. Did God not love me? Why did he not answer me? Why did he not ease my mind? Were all Christians just going around and saying all these things because they didn’t want others to know that they weren’t experiencing what everyone else was? Was God really real? My doubt increased to the point where I became angry. Oh, I kept doing everything I always did. I was in church every Sunday. I continued to plan the Sunday school lessons and teach them. I continued to open our home to church members and do as I’d always done. But… I felt alone and rejected. I had thoughts like Christianity is perpetuated by men who want to control their women and that every thing was a lie. I decided to not believe anymore.

Early one morning I was walking in our neighborhood alone. Not even my husband knew what my thoughts were or that I was going through this crisis. It was a still, humid morning and as I headed down the hill to my house, I was brought up short by a sudden breeze. The sound of it in the trees and the feel of it across me made me hesitate for a moment. I shook it off and continued home. When I reached our yard our neighbor’s young black lab, Swayzie, came up to me. People in Mississippi often just let their dogs run loose and Swayzie had been digging enormous holes in our front yard. Needless to say, we weren’t particularly fond of this dog or her owners. She stood before me with a triangle of our dirt perched perfectly on top of her nose and just held my gaze. I don’t know how long we stood there but in those moments I believed. I could not accept that all of creation around me, including that dog, was just happenstance. I have never witnessed anything left to itself become more ordered. Everything tends toward decay and chaos when left to itself. I actively sought to not believe and I couldn’t.

The pain of these past 12 days has had me questioning not whether God exists, but whether he truly cares about what we are going through in a personal way. Just what does a “personal” relationship with Christ even really mean? My faith is important to me and a part of who I am. I believe the Word to be the inspired Word of God. I pray, go to church and have served. My voice has prevented me from serving in the ways I used to and my pain over the loss of my voice has prevented me from searching out different ways to serve. Our expectations of who we thought would be there for us and then the surprise of who has been has shaken us. Our world has literally been turned upside down.

Paco’s wings need to be clipped again. He will be seven years old in March. In all of that time I have never gotten him to step up onto my finger. I have always had to use the handle of a wooden spoon. He’s been terrible and flying around. It isn’t a big deal when my husband or Double Shot is home because they can easily get him back to his cage. The times he gets loose and it is just me here are extremely stressful. A couple of days ago he was loose for about an hour. The dogs were going crazy. I got a banana and he would eat it while I held it to him, but as soon as I got close with the spoon, he would fly away. He decided to go back behind our TV and was having a grand time crawling all over the wires. I sat on the couch and just watched him because I could not reach him. He then started to bite the wires. His beak is very sharp and I was afraid he was going to electrocute himself. Even though I don’t like Paco, I don’t want him to die and especially not in the middle of what we are dealing with. I got down on my hands and knees and prayed for help. I talked to Paco and pleaded with him to please step up on my finger. I didn’t care if he bit me. It took a good 10-15 minutes with me there holding my finger before him. He put his head down and I tentatively pet the back of his neck. We went back and forth and then he stepped up onto my finger. I went very carefully back to his cage, fully aware that he could fly off at any second.

Yesterday, he was flying around again. He came to me and got on my finger and muttered unintelligible things to me. I held him to my face and he gently nibbled at my face just as he does with my son. God may not be speaking to me. God may not be here in the way that I think He should be or in the way anyone would expect. I may not be feeling peace and joy. But He is here. He reveals Himself to me through his creation… through Paco, the Terrorist, who is now my friend.

We have been thrust into this life of the parents of a prodigal. There is no room for anger and bitterness. There is nothing she can do or say that will make us stop loving her. We have trained her and are holding onto, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 Some kids seem to need to learn things the hard way. As she steps into the pen to fellowship with swine, we are praying for her protection. And we will wait. We will wait for the day that she chooses to return and when we see her from afar, we will run. We will run to her with our arms and our hearts open wide.

Update: Chai Tea has now been gone over three months. Later today, we will have our second counseling session with my husband, her and myself. In the past week she has called me twice just to talk. And... I am going to be helping at church during worship by putting the words to the songs up on the screens. And Paco is still a terrorist... yet, still my friend.


Brenda said...

I think it is wonderful to share such an intimate thought with us. I feel I know you so much better just reading this. I object to Christianese because I feel it leaves anyone who does not speak it out. It makes me uncomfortable. Pharisaical. I know I spelled that wrong. I will continue to pray for you and your daughter. I am confident He is working. PS - I am afraid of birds. Now you know.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

i just had a revelation... i can't believe i had not realised it and for that i am sorry... I followed your other blog prayed often for your oldest... even after your blog ended I continued and often wondered where you had gone and if you would come back... I follow your younger brother on my space, he is very very smart and very very deep thinking... often I dont say anything but I read his posts and am dumbfounded at times... I am very glad to have figured out who and where I knew you from.
Come on over for coffee any time :D
HUGS and Prayers

Kathy said...

First of all, I am terribly sorry for the loss of your voice as you once knew it. But you 'speak' so clearly and eloquently through the written word. It is a gift. Thank you for posting this one again. Beautiful!
I am a late-started Christian and don't share my 'aha' moment much. I understand a bit of what you write.
I was terrified of birds ... terrified. Decided what kind of vet would be afraid of little birds for crying out loud. So in vet school I volunteered to work in the raptor program. After handling injured owls, hawks and eagles; I overcame the fear. Now I love birds. (except in the wood burning stove.
I pray for your family in the rebuilding of a new relationship with your eldest.
This is much too long, so I'll end here.

Karen Deborah said...

Awhh aint it great to have friends?
Ya'll should be askered of PACo he is a terrorist.
I will be praying, and whoohoo on the phone calls!!!
I told ya she loves you!

Flea said...

Thank you for the update on Chai. And Paco. :) It's good to hear how God is working in your family. Sounds like Chai really loves you and wants to be your daughter. Maybe doesn't know how. But the phone calls are great! So cool to hear how much God loves you all. :D

Chris H said...

How do you feel about people who don't 'believe'? I have met many many people who are GOOD CHRISTIANS who are nasty and judgemental and believe that Non-believers are evil and bound for hell ! This hurts cos I am one of those who does not believe .. yet I live a good life, do no harm to others, try to help people whenever I can... get the drift? My philosphy on life is (and I think it comes from the Bible!) "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"... I live my life to this code. So, quite a big question: "does this make me "unworthy" of being your friend?" I have lost quite a few friends for my being un-religious. Yet I accept them, religion and all!

thislittlepiggy said...

Thank you for saying some things I really needed to hear today. HUG

Coffee Bean said...

Dear Chris,

I would be honored to call you friend... just as long as you call me a nutter or a tart... and tell me to piss off once in awhile!

I am just bumping along through life trying to figure things out. I don't have all the answers. I certainly cannot judge where others are spiritually. I have done it before and am now shamed by it. Only God knows each person's individual heart and where they are at on their journey and what the outcome will be.

Chris H said...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the affirmation that I am not evil! *Laughing*.... I have been stressing about what you would reply with... I am so used to losing 'friends' cos of this issue. Each to their own.. ALWAYS, in my book. show love and caring towards all, no matter what... well unless they be hurting someone! Once again THANK YOU, I can stop worrying now.

Coffee Bean said...

No Chris, Thank YOU!

Chris H said...

Hee hee, ta for the AWARD, I even thanked ya on me blog!

Chris H said...

*Bouncing up and down in me chair*... yes I am a TART... but a NICE one! heee heee heeeee.