His Best Stories, Paradox and Hail
We had hail the other day. I’d never seen hail. The thuds were heavy on our roof and the clanking on our aluminum fence was even louder. Our family sat on the back porch and took it all in, amidst the thunder and lightning. I’ve watched hurricanes knock down one tree after another. When I saw a hurricane pull apart my parents yard, what did I do – I laughed. I felt excitement and wonder, and a little fear…and guilt for laughing at something destructive. Thankfully the hail wasn’t nearly so serious, but still there were these emotions at odds with one another that I felt simultaneously.
Is there some word for these contradiction-combos of emotion? – paradox, I think that’s it.
I got some precious reprieve. John watched the kids and I had time to do…whatever. Problem is that when I get this time I often don’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t do much. I parked in a parking lot and had a really nice little retreat in the back of my van reading praying….and wasting time on the internet on my phone…or maybe not.
I checked my twitter account, and saw this video. I felt another odd mix of emotions – tears and joy is the only way I can describe it, and I hardly feel that it does it any justice.
This video of Steve is so sweet to my heart…and hard. Honestly, over the past few weeks I think of him every time I transition my almost-7-year-old son – every time I help with his hygiene, strap his foot down, brush his teeth, put bits of food in his mouth. I do these things the rest of us take for granted, I think of Steve – or “Mr. Saint” as I have so stubbornly have always called him – he and Ginny were always fine with their first names). I think of a man who has his whole life been able, just like I have…walking, using our hands so easily. Now he finds himself in a position only a little better than my B. Although he has great hope of these being temporary to some, I cannot imagine how hard that would be. Even though I live with this stuff day in and day out, I’m not the one in the chair. I push. I don’t know their vantage point…the humbleness inherent in being cared for by others, and in Steve’s case, the unspeakable physical pain. My heart, it hurts deep for him, for the father of my precious friend, Stephenie. Today would have been her 32nd Birthday. …would have been. 12 years ago that changed.
In all of this, there is this ultimate paradox that I will spend my life wrapping my brain around.
Sunday, as communion was served the pastor spoke on the Eucharist – Of Christ giving thanks as he broke the bread and served the wine, knowing that he was to die, and not just knowing, but giving thanks in it…for it?! Thanks. To give thanks when we live through the hard things, the hardest of things… the things that rock our world. We know nothing of Christ’s suffering!
“Gratitude is the shortest lived human emotion.” –Steve Saint
How true! How quickly my heart wanders! I write my list of thanks, and then the phone keeps ringing with bad news – a brother with a worrisome health issue – a friends whose father has suddenly lost the use of his hands and no one knows why – a lost/stolen laptop. More things to pray about. The kids clamor for my attention and I want to run for the computer, as if I could escape…or something really important is happening there…and isn’t it always. The nurse keeps looking at me wondering how I’m going to manage all this. WHO KNOWS what she thinks of my parenting…or lack of, in these distracted moments. What to do next with my son? What piece of equipment to put him in? How to strap-down his foot? How can I do this well, I wonder? How in the world will this woman want to come to work in my house tomorrow? What will we manage to do? How will I make the rhythm work…for the kids to get the attention they need, for her to have time to chart, for B to get enough real stimulation for that smart little brain of his, and for us all to feel sane.
All day I’ve been thinking about how Ann Voskamp says in One Thousand Gifts that you “Eucharisteo is no game of Pollyanna but the hard edge of a blade.” Funny thing – When I listened to the book on audible, I thought she had said:
“living on the edge of the blade”
…and that’s where I am. I’m trying to balance on the edge of this blade that is gratitude. Steve is in gut-wrenching/exhilarating battle at its toughest. It strikes us down, but doesn’t crush us. Somehow, with God’s grace, it can be the very instrument he uses to fill us.
I have learned to kiss the wave that strikes me against the Rock of Ages. – C.H. Spurgeon
In my own trivial concerns, I think about my own struggle to be content with solitude. I think of the times when it just doesn’t work out to be with a friend. I crave friendship and fellowship so badly. I remember the Friend that is closer than a brother. Where I remember that maybe the best times are the hard ones where I look to Him, where I rest in the shadow of His wing or as one friend says, “shelter of grace.”
“He writes His best stories from the hardest beginnings.” -Steve Saint