Sunday, January 24, 2016

Necessary reminders

When I was going through a hard time, I talked to a colleague to get some advice. He was incredibly helpful and in the conversation said, "Remember this: you're not hopeless, you're not helpless, and you're not alone."  It was a trying time, and those reminders were both helpful and necessary. 

Last night I learned that a high school friend had taken his own life.  I was shocked and heartbroken.  And having experienced that kind of darkness before in my life, I knew how dark and isolating and awful it is.  And I wished that I could have shared these simple truths with him too...

You're not hopeless.
You're not helpless.
You're not alone.

The darkness will try to convince you otherwise. And it can be awfully persuasive. But I also know, the darkness lies. 

Though it might be impossible to feel and ridiculous to believe...there is always hope and there is help and we are not alone. 

I believe in the light and hope and redemption of the Gospel and so I trust in God's saving grace even in the midst of such tremendous pain. 

May we all be reminded and always know, we are not hopeless. We are not helpless. And we are not alone. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"I don't want you to hurt yourself"

I'm learning a lot about God through my kids these days.  It seems the regular lessons I teach (and re-teach) our 4 year old seem to have a lot of resonance or theological perspective for me.  For instance....This week Ruth was wanting to do an art project. She had been painting and wanted to cut the page. So she went upstairs to get a pair of scissors.  Now, she uses scissors a lot and does a great job of only cutting the paper and not cutting fabric, hair, or herself.  But, she doesn't do a lot of walking with scissors, let alone down the stairs.

When I saw her coming down, scissors in hand (incorrectly) I hurried up the stairs and stopped her. I asked her to give me the scissors so I could show her how to hold them correctly and not get hurt.  She refused. I asked again. She refused. I grabbed the scissors. She pulled away. I pulled them out of her hand.  She stormed off in tears to her room.  I called after her to no avail.  So, I took the scissors to my room and told her to come talk to me when she is ready to learn how to hold them correctly. 

A few minutes later she came in and started scrounging around (trying to find the scissors).  I asked if she was ready to learn and she fussed at my and stormed out again.  Another minute later she came in tears and mad, but asking if I would show her how to hold the scissors. 

So I showed her the different ways and different dangers in holding them. Then I showed her how to hold them correctly, first in my hand, then in hers. Then she was free to go do her project. 

As I reflected on the incident, I couldn't help but think that's how we I sometimes am with God. Sometimes I want to do something and I want to do it my way and on my terms.  God has no objection to what I want to do, only what I'm doing and the risks involved in getting there. So God says, "slow down, let me help you." and I object. "No, I can do this myself." God insists, " me, I don't want you to get hurt, please let me help you."  And, bull-headed as I am, I object. But God knows what is good for me. God wants what is best for me. And God does not want to allow me to get hurt.  So God stops me. 

Can you see where this is going? 

I have to trust God--both as the know-er, and as the one who is benevolent toward me.  I have to be humble and accept (sometimes ask) for help.  Not because I'm incapable. In fact, quite the opposite. I'm very capable, I just need direction sometimes.