Thursday, May 17, 2007

Internal, Eternal Ache

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them.'"
Ecclesiastes 12:1
A personal thought process from last night that I journaled.

It's 4am and I had just finished feeding isella. I laid in bed unable to fall back asleep. This is odd because I feel exhausted (in so many ways). This day brought a few disappointments. My poor wife is still not feeling good and still feeling pain (more than I think she should be), although she is home from the hospital. We had to cancel our family trip to Texas for my step-brother's graudation. Which is the right decision but I sorely let go of the plane ticket investment. On this same day I feel overhwhelmed with other issues: I didn't receive a hoped for salary increase, I am playing catch up and overwhelmed with work as I enter one of the busiest seasons of my year, and I still am dealing with my crazy-making dental issues. I lay there with all these things taking over my mind. I wanted to forget them and go to sleep. That wasn't happening. I also was nagged by the aching thought of an email that I was a week overdue for a response. It's sad, but that was the final motivating factor that got me out of bed. I made my way to to our computer and formulated my email. I did grab my journal on my way knowing that I needed to spend some time thinking and praying. Trying to compose my thoughts and words at such an early hour wasn't easy. Playing my itunes eased my angst. While listening, Carrie Underwood's cover song, "I'll stand by you," came up in my playlist. Even now as I type this I have it on repeat. It was perfect. I needed these words to touch me. I got on my knees and curled up on the floor. The lyrics washed over me like God's very words to me. (Look it up on itunes. It was featured on American Idol a month ago).

Carrie Underwood I'll Stand By You Lyrics
[acoustic version of The Pretenders' classic]

Oh, why you look so sad? Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now.
Don't be ashamed to cry, let me see you through
Cause I've seen the dark side too.
When the night falls on you, you don't know what to do,
Nothing you confess could make me love you less
I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you, I won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you.
So, if you're mad get mad, don't hold it all inside,
Come on and talk to me now.
And hey, what you got to hide? I get angry too
But I'm alot like you.
When you're standing at the crossroads, don't know which path to choose,
Let me come along, cause even if your wrong
I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you, I won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you.
Take me in into your darkest hour, and I'll never desert you.
I'll stand by you.
And when, when the night falls on you baby, you're feeling all alone,
You won't be on your own, I'll stand by you. I'll stand by you, won't let nobody hurt you. I'll stand by you
Take me in into your darkest hour and I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you. ooooh, I'll stand by you. I'll stand by you.

I knew God was wooing me to him. He drew me close for the sake of being close. He didn't say that all these things were going to work out the way I wanted them to or even change for that matter. I was to come to God and pour them out, cry them out and shout them all out to him. How quickly I had forgotten his words to me in the hospital just a week ago. What matters is Him, his love, his satisfaction. No salary increase, or busy-free, easy-going schedule, "perfect American dream," or even a health-filled challenged free life will fully bring me the pleasure and fulfillment that I am looking for in this eternal, internal ache. We were not made to be fully content by what we can achieve, eat, earn, or create on our own.

The scene in the movie Garden State came to mind tonight. The main Characters Sam and Andrew (played by Zach Braff and Natalie Portman) stand atop a huge rock quarry overlooking a huge ravine in the rain. It's been a trying, painful journey for them and in response they just scream into the darkness of large abyss. It's a beautifully messy picture of our generation's struggle for find meaning amidst strife and frustration.

It's like Ecclesiastes. Someone would say that life is meaningless with all it's unanswered issues, cyclical wanderings, and unfair situations. The reality I see in life and in Ecclesiastes is that there truly sometimes is no answer. God is silent all too often. Our sorrow and misery can seem unaccounted for and things can seem unfair, but we have a choice. We can believe there is no point to all of it, or we can choose to continue to Honor God and keep his commandments EVEN when things don't make sense or seem meaningless. According to Ecclesiastes we are to enjoy life while we can, and enjoy the things that are enjoyable and when they are not, we are only able to conclude that we must continue to follow and obey God. Regardless of how we feel about it, that's all we have. It's a wonderfully real, raw, vulnerable, and messy commentary on life.

Like the song and like God's word, we are invited to get mad and express our deep emotions and release our stress to him. There is no fear in truly being human. Even in writing this I am feeling free.

The Christian fallacy is that because God's word says he have a plan, he has ordained all the days of our life, and he will work everything out for the good of those who loves him--that our life will be free from pain and full of everything we want. It simply isn't true. I confess, I struggle with this. I buy into the lie that God is supposed to make my life like the American dream when he wants to make my life like Jesus. And what do we have in Jesus? Humility and suffering as he lives his life in peace, kindness, and selflessness. This is crazy. Why do I think that God wants me to have a high profile life where I live luxuriously pain free? My savior and my God had nothing that was attractive about him. He was despised and had no where to live. I am so humbled.

God forgive me. Forgive me. Wash over me. I give you my disappointments, comparisons, anger, and hopelessness. I will continue to obey you. I will continue to do your will regardless of how I feel.

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