Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The many windows of God

I like allegories, imagery, and word pictures. I will admit that sometimes they are cheesy, but for the most part, they are at least helpful to me.

One that I have come to think about frequently in the past year or so is the idea of God being a house with many windows. We don't really know for sure what it's like in the house until we are in heaven, but in this life we are given the opportunity to look inside a window or two.

For much of my life, I think I have only looked in one (or maybe two) of God's windows. I only had a few views into his house. And for a long time, that was all I needed. In fact, I didn't even realize there were other windows to look into.

I have now been torn away from that window and placed in front of another window. Another room in the house of God that I didn't know existed. One that many other people, I'm sure, don't know about, either (though to be sure, there are many who have looked inside this window). I want to share what I see in that window - that is, when I can see through the window. Many times the curtains have been closed, or when they are not, the glass is so dirty it's hard to see in. Those who do visit this window usually are in a hurry to move on, so very few take care to clean it for others who might come along after.

As for what I see, I will venture to say that though it often may not sound orthodox, it is just as valid as the view into any of the other windows of God. Perhaps in heaven I will learn that the window I have been looking through was a false window - but I don't think so.

I want to tell my friends and whoever may be reading this that I do not presume to say that the window I used to look into, or the one you are looking into, is no longer real or valid. I believe it is. But for it to be valid, my window must also be valid.

As for what I see through my window, it would take pages and pages to even begin to describe it. But I can probably share a few things. I see a God who did not live up to my expectations - who was not who I thought he was - who did not do the things I thought he would do, or say the things I thought he would say. Who, according to my human perception (which is all I have right now), abandoned me in my greatest time of need.

I see a God who refuses to fit into any mold I have ever tried to place him in; who is full of surprises and mystery; who is still real despite seeming as absent as ever; who somehow has not given up on me despite the years of drought and doubt; who has created beautiful people to sustain me when he is "not enough"; and who somehow has remembered me even when I feel forgotten.

This is just a tiny bit of what I see.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

a note from me

I just have so much to say that I have nothing to say, if that makes sense. I'm working hard at sorting through many difficult and often conflicting emotions about many different issues/situations and am just overwhelmed and bogged down. And, I've just had a particularly hard time in the last week and a half. I'm really looking forward to relief from internal turmoil... someday...

In the meantime, I'm thankful for my husband and friends for putting up with me lately. Their love is what keeps me going.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sometimes, life is just painful.

How I long for better days.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Yes, I realize I have had a scarcity of posts lately. I don't like it that way. I often really do feel that I am a writer at heart, and when I don't write for periods of time, all the stuff inside of me starts to back-log (for lack of a better expression). Then it becomes overwhelming and because I am a perfectionist in writing and only want to present clear, logically organized thoughts, I just shut down and don't even make an attempt. Not a great way to function, really.

So, what has been on my mind lately? Many things. But one thing I thought I might write a little bit about is a book I read recently, called "A New Kind of Christian." The author of this book (Brian McLaren) is quite a controversial figure within the Christian world and because of that, I want to be careful in what I write here. This is a book that would have greatly upset me, even just a few years ago (and there were definitely still parts in the book that I had trouble with, don't get me wrong!). So, my intention in writing about this is not to offend anyone, only to share what has been going on within my spiritual life with the help of this book. I was very surprised to find how helpful this book was in explaining much of what I have been going through for some time now.

So, that said, for me, the book was right on. It is not for everyone, but it paints a very active picture of what has been happening in me lately. I have known something wasn't right with me for awhile now, in my faith, my view of God, my role in the "church", my understanding of science/religion, of "witnessing"/evangelism, of loving my neighbor, etc etc etc. Many times as I was reading the book, I had "lightbulb" experiences that seemed to shout "No wonder I have been feeling/thinking this way!" , or "No wonder I have been having problems with these concepts/ideas/beliefs!" It all makes so much sense, and the best part about it is that it made me realize that I have not lost my faith (or even just gone "liberal" - a bad word in the evangelical conservative circles I grew up in!). The problem is, I am just unable to function as a Christian in a "modern" sense - the way I grew up, the way that is still practiced around me by many, the way that is still expected of me (even by myself). The world has changed, and that is not a bad thing. The wonderful news about this is that I am not alone in this - there are many, many Christians going through this.

The book talks much about "postmoderism" as opposed to "modernism". I realize that "postmodernism" can carry quite a negative connotation within the evangelical/conservative world, but the book really described it in a way that really made sense to me and was not offensive (perhaps because my thinking has been changing for some time now). My favorite thing about postmodernism (that is emphasized in the book, anyway) is focusing on a new way to think of things (hence the title "A New Kind of Christian"). That is, thinking outside the box, one of my (many) soapboxes over the last few years. The book is a (fictional) conversation between two friends who are discussing the changes of being a Christian when going from the modern way of thinking to the postmodern way of thinking. The first man, Dan, is a pastor who is trying to understand and enter this new postmodern world, and the second, "Neo," is a former pastor-now school teacher who has a really good grasp of postmodernism and who shares what he learns with Dan. So often in dicussions Dan would try to pin Neo down by trying to get him to take a stance on one of the many issues that are so prevalent today - say, homosexuality, pluralism, different denominations/religions, science/evolution, tolerance, politics etc etc. While Neo has opinions on these issues, and doesn't deny that there are important issues, the theme throughout the book, again and again, was: You're missing the point! This is the stuff that we get so tangled up in, but this is not why we're here! Neo often draws a line on a piece of paper and on one end has the "liberal" view and on the other end has the "conservative" view. He points out to Dan that the majority of modern man's thinking tends to be somewhere on that line, whereas postmodernism rises above that line and sees things in a whole new light.


I'll stop here. Perhaps there will be more later, perhaps not.

Monday, January 08, 2007

More closure - sort of

Well, Zach's grave marker is in and it is already set in the ground. We were excited and went out to look at it. The good news is the wording on the bronze plaque is perfect. The bad news is they ordered the wrong size granite stone that it sits on. They are going to correct it for us, but it will take another 3-4 months.

It doesn't look bad, it's just not as proportional as it is supposed to be (the granite marker is supposed to be smaller, so that the bronze plaque doesn't look so tiny). And it doesn't match the other infant grave markers, either. And, most of all, it's just not what we ordered...

Anyway, we are frustrated, but at least we have something out there for now...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Absence of Presence/Asking the wrong question

I recently finished a book called "A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching out to God in the Lost Language of Lament" (by Michael Card). There is so much from this book that I have gained and would love to write about, but the main thing I can share from it is the theme of Presence.

Card writes about how so often we view lament as crying out about our suffering - that is, the physical/tangible issues that cause us pain and heartache. And while this is true, he points out that real lament is crying out over the absence of Presence. God's Presence, that is. I would venture to say that I could have gotten through these last few years alright if I had felt God's Presence with me. It was the absence of Presence that broke me, not the infertility struggle and subsequent loss of baby Zach.

Think about it. On the cross, Jesus cried out "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Not - "Why am I being crucified?" or "Why am I suffering?" He was lamenting the loss of Presence. I can think of many times when I thought to myself, "I think I could bear this burden if I just sense His Presence. But it is gone!"

I recently started reading another book called "Where is God when Bad Things Happen" by Horace Duke (not to be confused with the Kushner book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" or other books along those lines). I have only read through two chapters yet, but have been blown away already by the book. The thing that has struck me the most in what little I have read is this: in times of pain like I have experienced, often we ask the wrong question. That is, we ask "Why is this happening to me? Why do bad things happen? Why am I suffering?" While those are real and valid questions - and do need to be asked and worked through - the real question, the one that really needs to be addressed, is "Where is God when bad things happen?" Where is the Presence?

THAT is the real issue.