My first-born son has deep-grey eyes and a thick chest like his purple-hearted great grandfather. He’s come to learn a few strengths as the oldest of four sons while he’s patiently taught his brothers how to catch and balance and ride. He reads to them, a teacher by virtue of how they watch him. I see good out of him for a million miles. When I first held him in my arms, I knew the future. He is what good men are made of.
Is it any wonder then that this week, on the first day of his third grade year, when another little boy called him a name in front of many children and then decided for the group that he couldn’t play football with them, that I actually imagined taking an 8 year old by the collar and throwing him across a field? I consoled my son and spoke of grace and what the LORD has for those of us who suffer well, but internally, my oven cranked up to the burnt toast level.
He slips his arms into the straps of his backpack again every morning after that, back into the world, and my mind reels of how much I have to learn. Jesus made no bones about the trouble we have coming in this world. So what does it even mean for us to take heart that He has overcome the world, what with so many troubles?
This summer, the world fell flat for me, the colors, the metaphor, the song. Someone highly esteemed in my heart had hurt me, and the news of broken marriages and miscarried babies became like waves, a dark shroud pressing down. I found myself multiple times holding my body up on the kitchen counter, so dizzy I couldn’t stand, so pressed down that I couldn’t breathe. It’s what some of us call depression (or oppression), and even though it had been at least a decade since I had experienced this, there I was in the pit of my bed, in a fast and unrelenting ache.
Other things come in to play here, like living out of suitcases for the summer in a crazy house-selling/buying escapade and also the fact that my children lost all sense of consistency and discipline, but right now, it’s beside the point to list all the things that bring suffering into a heart. Some of us carry painful memories like invisible, tightening nooses. Some of us have witnessed places that seem so God-forsaken that HOPE sounds about as useful as a fortune cookie.
What does it mean to take heart, what with all the suffering? What am I saying to my child when I ask Him to cling to Jesus? It seems to me as I sort through the world, as I’ve been coming back to life and into His arms, that there are two ways to handle suffering.
One way leads to life, and the other way? It has the sting of death all over it.
Part II will be up tomorrow. Thank you for visiting and for sticking with me if we’re old friends. I haven’t so much as written a grocery list since I last wrote here, but I know what’s coming, and it’s a lot of writing – here and on the book. Those of you who have prayed for me and written notes to encourage me, even when you didn’t know what was going on? I have no way to tell you how grateful I am. As for today, the Haines family is doing so well. We completely love our little house and how God put us somewhere we wouldn’t have chosen. There’s no doubt in my mind that God cares for my character more than He cares for the square footage of my home. Soon I’ll share how we spent 8 weeks this Summer without a house!
Something happened in google rss feedburner land while I was away, so add me to your list, if you have one. Also, I would love to see your face on Facebook! Conversations and messages there are my favorites.