I Lost My Way

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I lost my way on the day the world turned upside down.

Neatly stacked and categorized, all was safe and sound.

Until the day my heart was broken, and all I thought I knew

Seemed not to matter anymore, and was it ever true?

This final thing betrayed myself and I crumbled in the dust

And if the truth was not,  where was the truth I could trust?

So God doesn’t work the way I thought, so maybe I got it all wrong

I had done my best to follow His lead, to listen to His Song

Then the thing I thought would never be, drove a sword into my heart

It turned my world upside down and tore my mind apart.

The foundation from which choices came was no longer there

The choices came from a paradigm created from doubt and fear.

And since my heart deceived itself,  it drew the darkness in

And since no true light could be found, all that remained was sin.

Instead of God, I led the way and thought that it was right

Deception locked me in a pit  and took away my sight.

Because things did not turn out like I thought they should I fell

Into the depths of misery, into the depths of hell

But even through the darkness, a ray of light shone through

For God dwells in the darkness and His faithfulness is true.

He slowly led me to the light and made my vision clear

I saw that Jesus had not changed. It was me, I said, through tears

How much of it was anger?  How much a spineless fit?

Or was it that my view of God had to crumble bit by bit?

In His likeness I was made. He was not made in mine.

He was not the God I thought I knew, not the God by my design

But the God of love came after me.  I was not left alone.

Faithful and true, He had not changed.  Forever I am His own.

Right was right and wrong was wrong.  His Word was always true.

And behind all this His love reached down and again He made me new.

Life is still broken, but I have hope. Because He lives, I live.

I know He loves the ones I love.  He is good and He’ll forgive.

Like a good Father, He will run to them and lift their face to His

He will clasp them in His warm embrace and give them a holy kiss.

This is my hope, this is my prayer, that my child will hear His call.

That she will heed the Sweetest Voice, give her life, her soul, her all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Listen

Listen to her:

She is really saying that she is afraid.  She is afraid that her independence will be taken away…that decisions will be made for her.  I can remember when it first hit me that she was a person with likes and dislikes that nobody knew about.  I was planning a birthday party for her and someone asked me about her favorite meal.  I could not answer.  I did not know.  Who knew that my mother had a favorite meal?  She never voiced it.  She was always deferring to someone else.  Her person-hood confronted me at that moment and I felt bad…guilty that I had never fully given  complete person-hood to her.  I looked at her with new respect.  She is not here for her children alone.  She has dreams, desires, preferences, and dislikes.  The important thing is she still has all those things and now she is afraid of losing them because her children think they know what is best.

I have tasted a bit of that from my own children and it scared me, so I know how she feels.  Everyone can be forgetful, but if it is in an older person, it is attributed to old age and dementia.  Even if it is old age or dementia, do we have a right to take away their dignity by taking over their affairs, talking down to them, or making a decision without giving them the ultimate say?  I am sure there comes a time when taking over is appropriate.  Great wisdom and gentleness is needed to discern that moment.  A patronizing tone is always inappropriate.

It is hard not to assume that we know best for our children and for our parents.  In the case of our children, we see the trend of their behavior leading them in the wrong direction and toward negative outcomes.  In the case of our parents, our fears for them grow way out of proportion because we do not want to lose them.  In both cases, tend to magnify their weaknesses and rob them of choice.  In the process, we hinder communication and destroy their trust in us.

I have observed that one of the biggest mistakes that doctors and nurses make is to not listen to the patient, but instead assume we know what they are going to say or that we know what they need.  The patient becomes frustrated and shuts down, leaving the problem unsolved or misdiagnosed.

Since my mother is hard of hearing, there are greater difficulties she confronts.  People tend to talk over her or talk around her without talking loudly so she can be a part of the conversation.  Sometimes she just decides not to say anything when Dad’s doctor acts like she is not in the room and instead discusses Dad’s health with my sister. I have sensed her hurt in the car when she cannot hear what we are saying and we forget that she cannot hear.  I know she loves conversation and would love to be a part of whatever is going on.

The older I get the more convinced I am that listening is one of the most valuable virtues.  People want to be heard.  Their defensiveness, rebellion, quietness or stubbornness may give us a clue to that.

One of the most painful events for an older man is when he is to give up his driver’s license.  What a blow to his manhood and his independence!  I have seen the pain in his face.  And something inside of them dies when an older couple must sell everything they have and enter a facility.  It must be excruciating to part with a lifetime of accumulated memories and valuables that mean so much to them, but parting with independence would be even worse.

My mother was a little girl who had dreams like all other little girls.  She was one of many siblings, but wanted to be loved for who she was.  She made mistakes and was not always wise, but who is?  And who doesn’t make mistakes?  Children are so very hard on their parents.   I have watched her work hard all of her life to provide for her children and to do what she thought God wanted her to do.  I watched her give up things so her children could have. I have listened to her pray in her room often.  I watched her suffer with migraines sometimes on a daily basis.  I have seen her kill a snake and gut a chicken.  She was the best cook ever!  She made clothes for us. I watched her sing in church many times. How she loved that!  She taught us all to harmonize and love singing.  She loved people and she could talk to them so easy.  I admired that.  She had so many heartaches in her life and still does and yet she still loves God and hopes in Him.  She was a great Sunday School teacher to the ladies.  I miss her energy.  She was the hub of our home and the creator of our happy environment.  She could talk for hours and hours even into the early morning when her sisters would come to visit, or with her friends.  She was full of life and love and still is.

She still puts her needs on the back shelf.  She doesn’t insist that she goes to the doctor to get her meds adjusted or her teeth fixed.  She knows it is a hardship to take her to get better shoes or fix her hearing aids.  She lets Dad’s needs take the spotlight and worries about his health, his fluid intake and his medications.

I know the hurt she has endured.  Her dreams probably did not turn out the way she thought, but I know that given the choice, she would not have given any of us up.  She would have chosen to love us and to teach us about God.

She has faults.  That is what makes her human.  She is also loved by God and her family.  If there is a way we can honor her, we should do so. If we can still let her choose, we should do so.  If she needs to struggle on her own, to prove she has some independence and dignity left, we should let her.  And when she needs us, we will be there to help her and love her as we respect her desires, her dignity and her life.

 

MY JOURNEY TO THE WAY- PART 4 – more hope

Father Timothy said he will interested in my thoughts about Lent.  The saturation and poetry of the scripture readings went straight to my soul where they steeped in the deep waters of my being.  I had never experienced Easter in that way before.  It was a journey with Christ from Lazarus  to the Resurrection in Holy Week.  I loved it!

An act of love I will also never forget was that of Nadine sharing her umbrella with me, holding it more over my head than hers so that she got rained on and I did not.  I felt so bad, but she insisted.  I was unworthy of such an act and so receiving that gift was extremely difficult.

The fast itself was difficult at times as well.  Part of it was that I still have yet to grasp the significance of it.  I am willing to learn.

My favorite part of Holy Week was the Friday service where the Lamentations were read.  You know that author who actually puts into words the thoughts in your mind?  This is Lamentations for me.  It is full of the echos of my soul.  I absolutely loved it!  It included Lamentations in the Bible but also had the journey of Christ to the Cross, to Hades to the Resurrection in beautiful language.

There was something special about the Lazarus story that struck my soul. Jesus called to Lazarus  after he was in the grave for 4 days.  Lazarus was indeed dead. No doubt about it.  When they removed the stone, the smell of rotting flesh must have escaped the tomb. There were people standing outside the tomb, as the icon depicts, with their hands over their nose, not in wonder, but because of the smell.  That is reality.

But what strikes me is that Lazarus had nothing to do with Jesus calling His name.  He did not ask for that to happen.  He was helpless to respond. He was dead. He did not want to respond, but neither could he refuse to respond.  He was dead.

The same principle is shown in the story about the 4 friends who let down their sick friend through the roof to the room where Jesus  was.  The story says nothing about the sick man’s desires, condition or status.  It says nothing about his morals or his righteousness.  What it does talk about is the concern and action of his 4 friends.

There is hope, therefore, for the one who has strayed from following Jesus, and cannot even see that they are dead in their sins.  They may be blind in the darkness in which they are walking and may not even have a desire to change.  Worse, they may have deceived themselves and really believe that God would have them happy in the lifestyle they have chosen.

The hope is that the prayers and faith of the ones who love them may be effectual and may avail much.  God may have mercy, give sight to the blind and cause their spiritual awakening and salvation.  This is the hope for every parent who grieves over a lost child. The hope for every lost or wayward soul who is loved by one who knows God.

“Memories…light the corners of my mind.”

I lost my little girl when she was 2 and a half years old.  It devastated me, but it also taught me never to take people for granted.  Even now, when my grown children leave, I assure them that I love them.  It could be the last time I see them.  How precious my parents are to me!  How I wish I could spend more time with my brother and my sisters!  And now there are my precious grandchildren that I miss so much when I am not with them.

I remember vividly when we dropped my oldest son off at college far away.  He walked away from the car after saying good-bye, and I lost it.  He didn’t see it or know it, but I cried for the next two hours.  I lost him forever that day.  Life was never the same, and to this day, I still miss him so much that my heart aches when I think of him.  He was and still is my pride and joy.

Dropping off my daughter at college tore me up as well.  I always felt like she was my own heart walking around outside of me, and when I had to say good-bye to her in less than ideal and possibly unsafe conditions…well…I learned again to let go and trust in God for her safety.  But, a huge hole was left in my life.  Everyday, I miss her.

I am forever grateful that the memories they left behind were wonderful ones.  Danny and I loved to laugh together.  He loved to sing and seek the truth about things.  He still does.  Amie amazed me so many times with her boldness and bravery when I knew that inside she was just a scared little girl.  She let nothing stop her. She was always the leader, the captain of her little army (her brothers and sisters), the risk taker, and the seeker of new adventures.

What precious memories I have to keep me company!  They are like gifts I will have forever.  Forever I will have the memories my little Susie left me when she died, gifts of hugs and kisses, memories of the way she talked and the things she did.

I hope that when I die I will leave good memories to the people I love.  I really hope they don’t remember my bad moments.  I would like them to remember that I was kind, loving, and patient.  I want them to remember that above all I loved God and lived for Him.

After Susie died, her grandparents out of their love for her, latched onto her sister Amie.  We had moved about 3 or 4 hours away at the time, and they would make a point of visiting on Amie’s birthday.  They would take us all out to eat at a pizza place and shower her with gifts.    I remember though, that Amie did not care about the gifts.  She loved being with her grandma and grandpa and ignored the presents.  One birthday, when they finally said good-bye and walked out into the night, Amie cupped her face to the window and watched them drive away until way after she could no longer see them.  Then she walked to the couch, and picked up her stack of boxed presents and carried them around the house until bedtime.

How that incident spoke to me!  Those gifts were all she had left of her grandparents and memories are all I have left of Susie.  But what of the memories I leave?  What kind of presents will my loved ones open after I am gone?  I don’t want to leave gifts that stink of grouchiness, moodiness, anger, selfishness, or neglect.  I don’t want to leave dark miserable gifts of dishonesty, hypocrisy or regrets. When my children and loved ones open the gifts I will leave, I hope they find the beauty of a life filled with God’s grace that spreads to others.  And I hope that the memories of God’s faithfulness to me will carry them through the rest of their lives.  These are the gifts I want to leave with them. These are the memories I want to light their way.