Monday, May 25, 2009

A glass of whine, anyone?

A quiet evening--Beve and J are watching NBA basketball, E's eating ice-cream with a friend in the living room, and I'm holed up on my bed, trying desperately not to have a headache.  If wishful thinking worked, I'd be fine.  Unfortunately, I've never found wishing to be a very successful venture.  I've done all the medical things I can think of to avoid the migraine as well, to no avail.  So here I lie.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have some creative idea for a post.  Maybe then I'll have an entire headache-free day.  I wish it, I will it, I ask God for it.  At the very same time that I surrender my will and my wishes to Him, I tell Him this truth--that pain hurts and I'm tired of it.  Really, really tired.  Tired of being weak, and achy, and more aware of what I can't do than what I can. The price I pay for even simple things like pulling weeds in our garden can put me flat on my back for a couple days.  It's ridiculous that this is true, annoying, frustrating and...

Yes, I'm whining.  You think this is bad, you should try living with me.I'm sometimes like a large decanter of whine, to tell the truth.  So you're lucky I'm just offering you a single glass. See, I know I come across at times like I have it all figured out, but that's so far from the truth, I can't even see it from where I'm standing.

The other day, I talked to my BB (baby brother), who was in our home town, having flown in from Boston to see Mom while she might still recognize him.  She did, thankfully, and she knew his wife is someone special (though BB doesn't think she understands what marriage is anymore).  Anyway, Mom was talking to BB's wife, telling her some long incoherent story, pointing out the window, gesturing wildly.  And at the end of several unintelligable paragraphs, she looked straight at EC and said, "Everything I just told you was a lie."

And tonight, as I lie here, thinking about suffering--complaining about my own suffering--I'm aware that lots that I say might be no more than a lie.  That is, a lie in my lived-out life.  There's a disconnect between what I know to be true--that suffering is used by God to grow us up, and connects us--in some mysterious way that we humans can't quite understand--with Jesus and His suffering.  "I want to know Christ and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering," Paul says in Phillipians 3. "My grace is sufficient," Christ has told Paul, when Paul prayed--three times-- for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. "For my power is made perfect in weakness."  Not just revealed in weakness, but actually made perfect--and (have you followed the path of this convoluted sentence?) how I actually feel, how I really respond when my 'normal' suffering takes a hairpin turn into something more acute.  When this happens, and I'm crying out to God, crying to myself through the pain, I come face to face with the difficulty of what He says about suffering.  Pain hurts.  And I don't want it.  I want there to be some simpler way to become holy, some easy, flower filled meadow in which to live and run and sing to Him.  Not dark nights, pain-flooded days, and a rocky road on a beast of suffering to get me where He wants me to be.

And yet.
Even as I lie here, writing this blog instead of holding a pillow to my throbbing temple, even as I lift my heavy-with-pain body off the bed and down on my knees, I weigh the pain against what I want more than anything else.  The weight of Glory, CSLewis calls it--when I reflect Him in both light and honor.  I think that if I can say this, if I can lie here on my pallet and say I want Him more than I care about my own pain, then that pain is defeated, and the one who would have me cowed by it, the enemy of Glory, is banished.  He has no place here, no even in pain.  What Satan intends for evil--for my undoing!--has already been used, is being used, is eternally used for His GOOD.  I speak these words, and I ask Him to help me mean them.

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