Pep Talk for Myself (and maybe you)

Is something scaring you? Whenever I am threatened with something scary, and given time to think about it, it is a time of examination, a time of rehearsing what I have believed in less threatening days.

I think first of what I believe about God. I believe he exists and created everything out of nothing, can be everywhere, and knows all about everyone. As hard as that is to imagine, I have a harder time imagining him not existing – given all I see around me. I don’t understand how this works and I don’t have to explain it to anyone else, thankfully. I’ve never heard anything bad about God from anyone I thought credible.

Then I review what I’ve heard about me and God and our relationship – from an old and reputable source. The people who wrote down the information claim to have gotten it right from God. It’s mystical, but I don’t think that discredits it. Anyway, I believe that he wants me to be kind of like an adopted kid, one that he’s willing to devote himself to raising and loving no matter what.

He’s got this plan for a family that has a lot of complicating features, because everyone in it is different. It’s a lot like a super rich Dad who has decided to raise special needs kids, a whole bunch of them. One important difference is that he is incapable of making a bad parenting decision. His parenting style is “love them into loving back” and he doesn’t use guilting and shaming as tools. He has really wonderful plans for all his kids.

So what do I think about the scary situation? God might decide to yank me out of it – sometimes good parents do that. He might decide to hang on to me while we go through it together. It all depends on where he thinks I’m safest. See, I believe all this and have decided I’m in if he wants me.

Now I’m going to believe he hasn’t lost track of me. He hasn’t been distracted or forgotten about me. He has never made a bad, unloving decision. He has me in the best place, no matter what it looks like to me – and believe me, the way some things look do not make any sense. Except maybe after. Things don’t have to be good to turn out good.

Another thing to remember, (sigh) there’s an adversary, an antagonist, a bad guy, a predator who wants me to believe exactly the opposite of all this, and he wants to remain incognito himself. The minute I remember that he could be orchestrating things, I can just feel the power coming back to me. I get so mad I forget about being scared. I remember whose family I’m in and who is really in trouble. It’s not me.

This is the most simplistic way I can put how I’m feeling right now. I am so thankful for the peace and relief that comes in bad times when I remember these things. Oddly, sometimes it’s harder to watch someone else go through a crisis than it is to go through one myself. I just want to make all the bad stuff go away, right now!

Instead I have to know God isn’t just taking care of one kid. He’s looking out for every one of them, better than I could – although he might send me to do something for someone. Fortunately, I believe God wants everyone in his family and he tells his kids to treat everyone like they were a new brother or sister. There is no one more inclusive than God.

There is so much more to think about than there is time to think, and that is what makes life seem so interesting (and so short). Even in hard times, I’m glad to be here. Just sayin’…

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers how he made us. The Bible, book of Psalms 103:13-14

Cleaning Your Room

 

I helped you clean your room

Not because it was a toxic death trap

But because I knew we might find something,

Something you’d been looking for.

And we would laugh at the candy wrappers, the moldy apple,

The discarded clothing, the random bits of paper with

Life scribbled on them, anguished life, raw life, devotion, angst

And dreams, scribbled on bits of paper.

 

I helped you clean your room

Because the hours spent with you were precious.

We talked and small traces of order would appear,

small traces of calm and pleasure, even though we knew

they were temporary. Your room, your life was meant

to be lived in, sometimes messy,  sometimes organized but

always uniquely your room,  your life.  And I was

always happy when you let me sit there with you. Always.

 

I helped you clean your room

And it was with the same strategy used in cleaning

My own room with its messes and secrets and disorganization.

My room never stayed clean either, but I always enjoyed making

It different.  I could always make a difference,  move the furniture,  clear the floor,

And feel fresh and renewed.   A messy room was just an opportunity, not an indictment.

I perhaps never told you these things, but I want you to know why

I helped you clean your room.

(A reflection on possible messages of shame, unwittingly communicated, deeply regretted)

 

Honor

Today I will think of all the spent hours of your life that translated into food for my body, clothing to cover me and as much security as you knew how to create.  Today I will consider that you started out as a teenage man with little instruction in family life, except that you grew up in a family yourself.  I will think about the times you changed your path and the uncertainty you must have felt as you searched for a better way to provide.  I will think about why you would fall asleep in your chair at the end of all those long days – not from laziness or drunkenness or escapism, but because you were physically exhausted.

I will realize that as a human you probably experienced sadness, frustration, anger (oh yeah), despair and doubt and yet you never bothered us children with any of it.  We had little knowledge of your struggles because you were a man and we were self absorbed children.  You taught us how to work alongside of you, but you always worked harder and longer.  And yet I can remember that you sang in the barn, and whistled and tried to yodel.  You modeled that it was possible, and desirable to enjoy work.  You gave me the idea that sometimes when trouble seems overwhelming the best thing to do is just go out and work at something.  Sometimes the trouble loses interest and goes away unfulfilled.  And at any rate, working is better than worrying.

As you’ve grown older with so many limitations ganging up on you, your persistence to do what you can inspires me (and scares me, but, hey… how can a nearly blind man on a rider mower cause any trouble?)  I see you teaching lessons of humility (when Mom is right and you are wrong), lessons of love (when you rub Mom’s feet and wash the dishes), lessons of trust (when you put those unsolvable things in God’s hands).  And you still whistle now and then and have Pandora playing on your cell phone, announcing your presence as you go.  I honor you for all of that.

Today I will grieve that as a society we have almost lost the concept of honoring our fathers for anything. Temptations are everywhere, expectations are high, psychology focuses on faults and there is nothing that cannot be blamed on a father.  I will remember how hard it is to be the head of anything, particularly a family.  I will be thankful for you – that you have not run away, that you are my dad, my father.

One of my favorite pictures of you, Dad
One of my favorite pictures of you, Dad