Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quick Bloggy Note

For my favorite Sarah in the UK and a few others, I am so sorry your comments haven't been showing up. I just found out about them when I was going through some html settings. Though I had set everything to notify me with comments, none were coming into my email inbox, so I just assumed you all were quiet (or that I'd scared you away). =) Anyway, I've hopefully fixed that issue, and now hopefully you won't think I was just ignoring you! Because I wasn't, I promise. =)

Little Birds & the Dark

My husband has a lot in common with the American Dipper. That's a story for perhaps another day, but that is why he calls me Little Bird. Well, for that reason and the fact that I remind him of this little bird he often sees on construction sites. Currently, this Little Bird is prone to running into trees, pecking too much, and forgetting that I have a Heavenly Father who really does care about even the littlest of birds.

Grasshopper came down with a cough and a fever this afternoon. He and his daddy are snuggled under the covers fast asleep and I'm still awake longing for connection, wishing that a simple conversation could take away the pain in my heart. But it's too late to call anyone and because I know sleep is impossible at the moment, I decided to read some of my favorite blogs in hopes that they would have some form of connection, some nugget of hope or truth to shed some light on this dark day. To be perfectly honest, I was ignoring that still small voice that was inviting me to connect with Him and not a phone or a computer. But God loves me despite my looking for His comfort everywhere but Him. God in His infinite mercy led me here, where Angie Smith contributes on occasion.

Check out her post and then come back if you like.

When I got to the paragraph she quotes about how a sparrow cannot learn to sing in the daylight but must instead learn to sing in the darkness, the tears just burst out of me with a cathartic suddenness that only happens when God opens the floodgates Himself. Because that is me. I'm that sparrow. Years ago, I had other beautiful songs to sing. But the season for those songs is over and I've been left wondering what song I'm meant to sing and how I can even begin to learn it. Can a Little Bird really learn to sing in this darkness that seems to prevail despite every attempt to illuminate it? I believe she can. It may take time, and it certainly will take darkness. But if God really made a bird on purpose that needs darkness to discover its song, surely He knows what He's doing in my own dark season.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quietness & Understanding

In this current season as we are experiencing sorrow and other hard things in our community, we also find ourselves learning some important lessons. I could list so many, but the one that sticks out at me the most involves being wise with our compassion and our words.

As I've read blogs over the years of people going through huge trials, I've often attempted to say something encouraging or helpful. As I watch my friend going through the loss of her husband and writing her beautiful heart out on her blog, I'm also watching people (including me) leave comments. Some are like a balm, soothing and loving. And some make me want to cringe with their presumption. Some even make me want to throw things. And it dawned on me that maybe I've been that type of commenter for others, without ever wanting to be that way or intending to be that way. But maybe I said things that were in fact hurtful simply because I did not have full understanding.

In times of grief we all want to do something, do anything to make the pain go away even a little bit. We do that in our own grief, and we do that when we see others grieving. What I'm learning is the importance of just being. It is hard to just be, but it is sometimes the very best thing to do. If Job's friends had been patient and willing to sit with him and just be for longer than the few days they gave him before they started speaking, I wonder if they too would have been richer for it. One by one, all the people around Job ended up hurting him with their words. They meant well, but their many words failed to show true understanding or even an acknowledgment that sometimes there is no understanding available. Does that make sense?

When I hear someone writing about depression as if it were only a sinful or weak response that could be simply combatted by putting on God's armor, I have a hard time staying silent. Those can be supremely hurtful words to someone who has been on the medical side of depression. Those words are like Job's friends, clueless and pompous, believing in their own compassion, failing to see it was no compassion at all. So when someone grieving mentions that particular topic, the best thing we can do is listen and pray and just be present. If we are in a position to have them consider themselves close to us, then we might ask questions to draw them out, but we should still be careful when making any statements that could feel more like harsh judgments. We have no idea what road they have walked, what wrestlings they have already fought through, what portions are body chemistry and what portions are everything else. We just don't know.

All this I would like to say to one commenter in particular on my friend's blog, but I cannot. So here I am on my public blog writing it out so that my heart can at least let this go. I don't know what my friend is most longing to feel or to hear or even if the comments that strike a nerve in me do the same for her, but for me, I know that I always most long for understanding. And when it cannot be given, I long for presence with quietness. I don't want to be alone in my grief, but neither do I want to have to hear words that sound like clanging gongs.

I don't know how much I'll write over here. Most of my time is spent privately journaling the confusion, grief, pain, and sorrow in a safe place. But if it were possible for the lessons I'm learning to be put into helpful words that were good, beautiful, and true, I might try to put them here. But this could also stay a pretty quiet place too. Only time will tell.

***If you are hungering for a good companion made of words to walk with you in a time of grief, I recommend Jerry Sittser's book, A Grace Disguised. I'm rereading it after several years and finding it packed with gold once again. There are other books by Lewis and Packer and others that are wonderful too, but Sittser's book is in my mind more helpful in the earlier days of grieving than the others.

Monday, January 3, 2011

To Begin Our Year

I haven't felt up for writing here in the last few days. It's not like I write very faithfully or well here often anyway. But sadness hit our lives on the 28th when a dear friend and our home group leader was killed in a car crash that also injured his wife and seriously injured their four children, including one who is my mother's helper and dear to my heart. I've been privately journaling about it, and that has helped. But did want to share one thing here.

When it came to December 31st and the idea that we'd be entering a new year, I was saddened. It dawned on me that I'd been secretly wishing God would give me a year where I could "coast", to quote something Brian Doerksen said in his Today dvd when speaking about his wish for an easy year after a series of hard years. And after the events of the 28th, it was obvious 2011 wasn't beginning at all like a coasting year, but instead it was beginning with intense grief and pain.

My dad, who is one amazing and caring and loving guy, sent me a devotional from some mission's organization that sends him online newsletters. I copied the first part of it below, which I later found out is rather timely because of the movie "The King's Speech" that is about this very king. (We're seeing the movie in a couple of days and I can say I'm looking forward to watching Mr. Darcy, er, I mean, Colin Firth.) Anyway, if you are having a year begin off a bit like mine, this quote and the excerpt from a beautiful poem may just feed your soul like it did mine. So here you go......

Pressing On
by Wye Huxford

It was a nervous, frightful time in England, when, on Christmas Day 1939, King George VI addressed his fellow citizens. One could hardly be critical of people in those days for being nervous and frightful. Hitler was moving into high gear when it came to his goal of taking over Europe - perhaps the whole world. Some have suggested that his speech was the most important Christmas message the royal family in England has even given.

King George closed his speech by quoting a few lines from an otherwise obscure Canadian lady named Minnie Louise Haskins. She had written these lines in a poem titled "The Gate of the Year." Here is what he quoted:

"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand
of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'"