Not a whole lot of Payson-specific stuff here, just some thoughts about hope and faith and love and some pictures from our Saturday road trip yesterday, always within 75 minutes of the hospital. We learned that lesson.
We are religious people. Some don’t think we know a buttload of crap about the gospel, but we do. Wendy and I met while we were on our missions, and she, like most women, couldn’t keep her hands off me.
Anyway, church is a fundamental part of who we are and our family culture. It’s a constant in our lives. During church throughout my life, I’ve wondered sometimes as I’ve heard other people’s challenges and experiences, how I would respond when heavy things come. Will I be true, will I be strong, will I realize new things, will I find that I’ve been wrong, that what I base my life on doesn’t sustain me in the most important, most character defining times? At the moment of greatest need, what will I be?
So, it’s been revealing dealing with a situation like Payson’s, and the impact it’s had on our connection to spiritual things. It feels like the depth of this trial has also demanded us to be more deep and sincere in our souls. What I find is that so much that seemed important or occupied my attention before is now so irrelevant, and my focus, of necessity, is really on the most basic fundamentals of what I say I believe – faith, hope, and love. These are the things that matter, the only things that matter.
First, about faith, a couple of weeks ago someone so close to our heats sent us a text with a scripture from Corinthians. I think about it every day, always with more depth, more understanding, hopefully more maturity, and more commitment to be true, no matter the outcome:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”
Second, about hope, my sister sent us the lyrics to How Firm a Foundation after a meeting she went to where it lit her up. I love this song, Ive always loved it and I love it more now. It’s a slobberknocker of a hymn that’s kind of become our spiritual anthem. Here’s three of the verses:
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
And third, about love. During the past six weeks, we’ve had some really good days and lots of mixed bag days and some days that just suck like everything ever sung by Bette Midler. Well, Friday was one of those Bette Midler days. And Saturday morning we woke up to this Facebook message from a friend, which was the answer to every question at that moment. I share this without permission, but it’s not her kid that has cancer, so she’ll deal with it! Anyway, I’ve only edited out any information that would incriminate this individual, and a couple of totally underserved compliments for us.
“This morning as I read the most recent post on the blog, my heart was full and I just cried. Not because I’m sad, but because of how hard this must be for you. I’ve found when God presents refining situations in my life it leads to so much loneliness. Because that refinement is for me. For me to work through with Him. I know you have such a great support system and each other. But what a weight you are both called to bear. As much as we try, no one else can really help you, nor ease it. No one, except Christ of course. When those moments hit me and I’m filled with the pain of loneliness I just quickly turn to Christ and say “This sucks. And it hurts. And I don’t want to do it anymore.” And Everytime I hear. “I know.”
I read this book called Conquering your own Goliaths. In one of the chapters the author tells of one of the men he’s sponsoring through addiction recovery that contacted him after he had just gone to visit his son for his birthday. His wife could not put up with his recovery and had kicked him out a month prior to this. This man at this time had found momentum in recovery. He goes to visit his son for his birthday. His wife opens the door, tells him he’s not welcome there and they had already held his birthday party without him. She would not be letting him in. She shuts the door on him and he walks away.
In recovery, addicts turn to their sponsors in moments of weakness, celebration, anything. They are available to them 24/7. He calls the author and tells him what had just happened. In that moment the author says a prayer pleading to the Lord to help him know what to say. He does not want this man to relapse. He knows of the progress he’s made. What can he say to keep him strong? Without a thought the author says, “That’s wonderful, I know it must have hurt you deeply, but I’m glad she said that to you.” He writes that both if them were stunned. He pauses and quickly prays again, Uh, father why is this wonderful? Why did I say that?
He then explains to the man, “It is wonderful, because now you have a tiny taste of the pain and rejection Jesus Christ suffered. And because you have glimpsed this small portion of his infinite sorrow, you can have a bond of fellowship that will draw you to him with a special love and devotion.”
This passage changed my life. No longer do I resent moments that cause me to feel unloved, forgotten, ignored, betrayed, rejected, lonely, etc. Because in those moments, I turn to Christ and say “This hurts. This hurts so much.” And I feel the pain. I let it be. I don’t try and justify it away or blame or change my circumstances, I just let it hurt and Christ in his infinite goodness says “I know.” If he can endure all things, then I can endure this.
I ache for you both and have no way to truly understand what this feels like for you. But I also rejoice in seeing you embrace it as the Lord would want you to. You’re doing everything right. You’re facing this as best as anyone could. I have no doubt every time you cry out in frustration or fear He’s right there with you. Sheding tears with you. Hurting with you. Wishing it was that easy to change the circumstances for you.
Since celebrating isn’t an option yet, continue to take comfort in the Lord and rejoice in this process.
Much love to you both and your family.”
We are surrounded by such goodness. There’s so few things that are really important. We are grateful for the lessons we are learning, especially those that sustain us and offer us the antidote to the despair and pain and frustration that we feel so close sometimes.
Good Sabbath, everybody.