Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Rainbow Reminder

James is out of town this week, and with my alarm clock issue, we've been running a bit late in the mornings. This morning, I woke the kids up 23 minutes before the school bus was due, so instead of rushing them out the door, we took our time and went to the donut shop for a quick breakfast.

We left the shop and drove towards the school under an overcast sky. As we turned off of one highway onto another, we were met with a double rainbow. I pointed it out to the kids who "oohed" and "aahed," and I reminded them that a rainbow is representive of God's promise. (Genesis 9:8-17 is the complete promise, but 14-15 sum it up: "Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.")

This past weekend in the midst of all the birthday/recital/appliance purchase craziness, there was an anonymous comment left on my blog by some spammer. It was absolutely replete with nonsensical babble about "the methodology of the gods" and how they "expend most of their efforts planning for and executing temptation designed to test people," forcing them into a never ending cycle of life until they get it right. The spammer went on to say that "The gods are asexual -- they have no sex organs nor rectums; Females are better people than males;" and because "it was foreshadowed on an episode of the Simpsons, people will be cast into outer space with gold cards in hand when the Earth's axis shifts." The post continued with political positioning and venomous racism, and as I deleted it, I couldn't help but think how sad that person must be, and how empty and hopeless his life is as he remains in such a state of confusion.

I thought about that commenter this morning as I observed the double rainbow. God is the God (the only God) who created the universe and everything that dwells within it. Honestly, we as His puny, finite creation don't necessarily deserve any contact from or connection with Him, and yet He shows up some random Wednesday morning to remind the human race not once, but twice, of His promise of mercy and grace. I needed that reminder today.

I've been thinking a lot about 1 Peter 1:3-9, which reads,

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

I'm quite despondent about those scriptures because I feel like I'm just not passing the test. I don't feel like my faith is being positively "proved," because though I have often made it clear that I could not have survived one moment of this obliteration without the compassion of God, I am not "filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." In fact, some days I feel like I'm just barely getting by. I don't know.

This is not a brand new struggle -- none of this is. I just feel like I've been shelved, you know? I just wish I could get some idea as to when my "little while" will be over, or if it ever will. I look in on Angie Smith and find such faith and beauty in the newly missing. And then there's Karen's sister Kim, who just buried her second baby in three years, and even she is far more astute than I am. I feel like I've just reached this point of stagnancy and nothing is changing with regards to my grief situation.

Over time, it's true that things have changed -- I no longer bear that raw, exposed wound -- but so much pain remains. I still can't handle babies or pregnant bellies well, which is so difficult considering that beloved members of my close family are now pregnant or trying to be. I already avoid long-time friends with babies, so how can I manage my loved ones? I'm quite sure this new crop of kiddos will knock me out of the position of holiday hostess -- at least for a while. It's not that I don't want to be a part of their joy -- I do. It's more about the fact that I can't bear it. I can't bear my own disappointment. I can't bear being a disappointment. I would rather just stay away.

I saw this episode of Monk once where his psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger, decided to retire after his cleaning lady had been killed. At the announcement, Mr. Monk had some kind of psychotic break and began cycling through the stages of grief at a rapid pace and all at once:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

When I saw that, I felt like I could relate. I've done a similar thing, except now I feel like I'm stuck. I feel like a stuck record player playing the same note again and again and again, never finishing the song. I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. You get the idea. My grief has been exacerbated by the fact that my mom is in Oklahoma gathering baby things for my brother, and by a conversation I had yesterday with a friend wherein she asked, "What's new with you," and I honestly answered, "Not one thing."

Though rationally I know I'm not, lately I feel wasted, worthless, used up, and tossed aside. Life has gone on and left me behind.

Seeing the double rainbow today reminded me that even in the midst of my stagnancy, even in the midst of my grief, even in the midst of my shelf-sitting and feeling like I don't matter one bit, I serve a God who truly cares about me, who is not "expend[ing] most of [his] efforts planning for and executing temptation designed to test people," as the spammer above inferred. Through his word, God has promised me many good things, and though I don't deserve it, He is faithful to remind me of them and to bring them to pass. Eventually.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD,
'plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.'"
-- Jeremiah 29:11

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God...
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."
-- Psalm 40:1-3a, 5

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us... and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
-- Romans 8:18, 28

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  • Randi

    I just wrote a huge long comment and then decided to just keep my rambling to myself because I'm not sure it made a bit of sense. Hope the rainbow is a continual reminder for you of God's presence in your life.

  • Jennifer W

    Don't you love the little reminders from God? I just want to tell you that I care about you and I know that sometimes it just helps to hear (or read) it once in a while.

  • Karen

    I don't think you are as "stuck" as you think you are. If you were you certainly would not have visited this pregnant girl at the same hospital where you had your precious Zachary. Need I remind you that you did not even know me....but what a blessing you were to me. Thank you for listening to God's call. I think he has more in store for the 2 of us. Now how about lunch?

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