Saturday, July 23, 2011

Remembering and reflecting: where I've been

It's been quite a while since I blogged semi-regularly. It's been so long that Blogger has come up with all sorts of cool new features since I last did anything but a quick post. It's also been a long time since I was active in the world of blogs. There are a few I keep up with sporadically, but I rarely comment. I have no idea what new controversy has everyone's knickers in a twist in what used to be my corner of the blogosphere. I am utterly and completely out of the loop. For all I know, some new wacky teacher may have arisen and convinced the gullible that patriarchy -- true, Biblical patriarchy!!! -- requires living in tents or that the reason men don't have concubines today is all the result of some vast feminist conspiracy.

I miss some of the people in that world, but I don't miss that world. It feels good to be free of it.

A lot has happened in my life and in the life of my family since those days. Life and death stuff, or I should say, near-death stuff. Crises. Heartbreak the likes of which no one should ever have to suffer. Anguish. Dark nights of the soul. But also incredible joy in the midst of that sorrow.

In other words, real life. Real nitty, gritty life.

When life gets that in-your-face overwhelmingly real, despite all the chaos and confusion that might ensue for a season, some things become really clear. You re-examine a lot when you're treading through deep waters. You begin to realize what and whom -- and Whom -- you can grab onto for safety and what and whom will only pull you down further. You realize who you can go to with your burdens...those who will weep with you and rejoice with you...those who will hold your darkest secret heartaches as sacred trusts...those who will walk with you through the darkest valleys.

There aren't many of those sorts of people.

Years ago, back in the day, I remember an online discussion of homeschooling mothers during which one brave soul dared mention a minor issue she was having with her teenage daughter. This girl was no longer content to play "Little House on the Prairie" and read Elsie Dinsmore for the 20th time; she wanted more out of life; she longed to do something that made a difference and was exciting at the same time. A number of the other moms, who only had young children, tore into this mother and her daughter. You would have thought this girl had announced, "I want to be a harlot" and that the mother had answered, "Whatever you want, dear, is fine with me; let me buy you some harlot clothes" -- that's how these other moms carried on. They gave advice that this girl's "rebellious spirit" needed to be rebuked and punished, that the mother shouldn't listen to her nonsense, that both were in sin, etc., etc.

Needless to say, these are not the sort of people you turn to in a crisis.

A few years went by, but it was still back in the day, when the son of a homeschooling family died under unfortunate and disturbing circumstances. The parents decided to alert other families to what had happened, so that others might be spared their tragedy. I was horrified at the lack of empathy, at the other callousness, in which some in the online world responded. There was much holier-than-thou shooting of the wounded.

Needless to say, these are not the sort of people you turn to in a crisis.

More than one mother, way back in my days of writing about my concerns regarding the Ezzos' teachings, insisted that they had the whole parenting thing down and would never have to deal with any problems because their one-year-old was already "characterized by first-time obedience".

Needless to say, these are not the sort of people you turn to in a crisis.

Also, back in the day, there were certain online teachers, some of them leaders in their own churches, who thrived on controversy, who loved to declare their authority over anyone who commented on their blogs, who sounded convinced that they held a special corner on doctrinal correctness, and who loved to argue until they didn't have the upper hand, in which case they banned people from their blogs.

Needless to say, these are not the sort of people you turn to in a crisis.

In May of this year, I went to a retreat. It was my second year going. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. When my mother heard of my plans, she asked with some trepidation, "Is this the same retreat you went to last year? the one with the...troubled people?"

It's always after the fact that I think of what I should have said. In this case, I should have said, "Yes, that one...because I am one of those troubled people.

Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble..." Some people are just more honest and open about their trouble than others. Some people know what it is like to be broken, wounded, and lost. Some people know what it means to find joy after sorrow. Some people aren't afraid of messes. Some people will let you grieve in ways that wouldn't look pretty in a movie, and they will sit with you in your pain, without condemnation. Some people know the joy of finding hope after despair, and they share it with you. Some people will walk with you as you try to find your way out of the darkness, out of the deep waters, and they will carry you when you are tired. Some people are like beacons in the night. Some people will give you permission to fall apart if need be. Some people will let you be real, as real as real can be, without any pretense, without any self-protection, and their complete and total loving acceptance of you will be like a healing balm to your soul. Some people will love you so much and so obviously that they earn the right to speak painful truth into your life, and they will do it with tears in their eyes. Some people will, with a hug and some whispered words, give you hope to sustain and encourage you for another year.

There aren't very many of those people, but I've been blessed beyond words to have found some.

Needless to say, those are the sort of people you turn to in a crisis.

And they are also the sort of people you turn to during times of joy and laughter, because they will celebrate with you like no one else will. They totally get the "rejoice with those who rejoice" part because they already have the weeping part down.

When I grow up, I want to be that sort of person.

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1 comment:

  1. I know it was months ago, but this is an amazing post! When you're in the thick of it, there are safe people you can really talk to, and UNSAFE people you should avoid. Usually the unsafe ones are the ones who haven't had their own lives shattered yet. They're so super-pietistic, and "spiritual." -- The safe ones have experienced the storms of life, and aren't so sure about all the steps and clean, tidy answers any more.