Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whatever is true...

Grampie's pretty confused right now, though each day the fog clears a bit from his brain. A little while ago he called me, which is a step back to the normal daily routine.  He said he's been getting calls 'all over the place,' and wanted me to tell him who they were from.  Yep, almost back to his normal, when he calls me immediately after he gets a phone call to ask if I called or if I can tell him who did.

Yesterday, with Thyrza sitting right beside him, a nurse asked him his wife's name.  Without missing a beat, he answered, "Barb." Beve's mom.  He couldn't come up with the second wife's name, and this is the second time he's done that in the hospital stay.  Thyrza's too recent a memory, I suppose.

Meanwhile, on the home-front, and related to Beve's mom, as we've been going through boxes from our basement, we found a "Grandmother's Book", which she'd finished for E, and one she'd started for J.  E's is jam-packed with stories and pictures about her childhood, college years, marriage and Beve's childhood.  It also clearly reveals her philosophies of life and relationships.  About familial relationships, she believed it important to be friendly to all but cultivate those she most enjoyed.  About neighbors, she believed in 'handling' the difficult ones and enjoying the rest.  About difficulties in life, she believed that turning a blind eye [my phrase] and having a PMA [her phrase] would get a person through.  This I remember: when I was pregnant, because my big ol' stomach tended to get in the way of food getting from my plate to my mouth easily I was more likely than usual to spill on my shirt.  I should have worn a bib, like Grampie has these days, but who knew.  Anyway, whenever that happened, I was likely to grouse a bit.  And Beve's mom's attitude was always, "Just keep moving."  The more I moved, the less anyone would notice the stain on my shirt. That pretty much sums up how she felt about life in general.  Just keep moving so that neither you nor anyone else will notice the bad things.

And, to be honest, there's something compelling about this philosophy.  Sometimes I want to move as quickly as I can from thinking or looking at the terrible things that stain my life, or the larger life on this planet.    I rotate and gyrate and practically turn myself inside out to keep from thinking of certain personal horrors.  They keep me awake at night if I let them.  And God truly knows how easily my sleep is disrupted even at the best of times.

But here's the reality.  God has a certain attitude, though on the surface it mirrors my beloved mother-in-law's quite nicely.  "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  (Philippians 4:8) This sounds just like Beve's mom, doesn't it. Cultivate the good, look at the lovely turning color of the leaves, turn up the dial on the radio and let the music swell and sweep over you until you don't think about anything else. Yes, keep moving.  Yes, dwell there.  Have a positive mental attitude.  

And there is something to this, of course.  It takes us away from our worries and lifts our spirits.

But dig deeper, and you'll find something else.  Paul, through whom God wrote these words, was not only unafraid to look into the difficult things of life, but saw them in many ways as his credentials--his resume--that God was alive and well and working in him.  The unbelievably long list of personal horrors in 2 Corinthians 11, about which he boasts.  Boasting of lashings and shipwrecks and being imprisoned and in danger from bandits and at sea and of starving...well, read the list.  It's overwhelming and, for most of us, puts our little struggles to shame.  

It's in light of all this suffering that Paul says, think on what is true.  Not turn a blind eye and pretend none of it is happening, but in the midst of whatever you're experiencing, think on what is good and noble and pure and pure and praiseworthy. Right here, right this moment, even now.   

Today, with a confused and disoriented father-in-law fighting for his life in one way and a depressed and anxious son fighting for his life in another.  With my own physical pain taking a toll on my body and the stress of these days taking a toll on my heart.  This day, this cloud-covered, leaf-falling day, I will turn my eyes to God and rejoice in the truth that He works, that He dwells here, that He never leaves the righteous unprotected. And He is our peace.  There is joy in these days.  Not in moving so fast I don't see them, not by pretending the pain isn't real or doesn't hurt, but by seeing that He is with us in the pain.  That is what is praise-worthy.  I will dwell on these things.

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