About 3 or 4 years ago, I prayed that God would restore the joy of my motherhood because I believed that was possible. A male friend, that cares very deeply for me, had prayed for the restoration of relationship with my biological father. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So I started focusing on not becoming bitter, toxic, and jealous, like many of the women in my generations. I knew I couldn’t escape that dynamic on my own because I understand how generational influences really work. At the time, there was a woman, that I was very jealous of. She is beautiful, very much a virtuous woman, and an amazing mother. She also has beautiful children, and a very handsome husband, that has a generous nature. You would think this would be something to aspire to, for the most part, and it is. But, unfortunately, our humanity is deeply flawed, and we will tend to be driven by self-destructive emotions when we feel we have been given a raw deal, while someone else is living a charmed life. I had felt this way my whole life, and I knew where it would lead to. Being jealous of what we see, is basically our own ignorance of the details of another person’s life. We also won’t learn anything from who we only want to justify our hatred of, because we are jealous of what we see, which is really just a reflection of our own inadequacy. We don’t really have an accurate or personal picture at all. We just see them as we see ourselves, and our resentment usually flows out of our own desires, that have been unfulfilled and abandoned by those that have crushed us with their denial of broken covenant. I had no idea of the depths of what I was really asking for then because I was just trying to deal with my own demons. I didn’t want others to suffer in silence in the ways that I had. And I didn’t want to be that source of pain to others, because of what I chose not to confront in myself. I knew what I was capable of, and it wasn’t an image I wanted to project onto others. The next year after I prayed this prayer, I was approached by some female friends, that told me that I needed to be publishing my writing, because they had heard my stories enough, personally, and they felt they should be shared publicly. That was the beginning of 2015. I made my first blog site and posted in April. In June of that year, my husband became friends with a man, that brought in a new season of understanding and experience for us. I didn’t know how to even feel about this, because I was picking up on spiritual dynamics, that I had seen, but didn’t really have the ability to receive with grace. The only way I knew how to describe what I was feeling is that a peaceful stillness and a comforting presence would flow out of this man when he was talking to my husband. The first time it happened was when we were on his lake-front property because he had invited us to go ride jet skis with him and his family. It was like a blanket of comfort had fallen on the atmosphere around him. The stillness was palpable. I didn’t know what to make of this. So I asked if my husband was feeling it, too, and he said he was feeling something like that around his friend, too. This was just the beginning of a season, that I will never get over.
About 3 months later, I got the phone call that no one wants to get. My mother had suddenly and quietly passed away in her sleep. For 3 days after that, I felt like I was being surrounded by a presence that was holding me, in much the same way, that felt like that blanketing of the atmosphere. Different people have different perspectives and different experiences with the supernatural. So we are usually not going to have the same stories, and we will process them in our own ways. I call what I was experiencing pre-emptive grace. I had been learning how to comfort myself in quietly, personal ways before I would need to know. The blogging I had just started a few months earlier, became a major outlet for me, which I needed because what I was seeing spiritually was unprecedented. I have written many blog posts about this, at this point, that weren’t understood, which is unfortunate. It seems that comfort is what people need the most, but won’t connect with, because they want control of the details. About 2 weeks after we buried my mom, all of my experiences were given meaning and purpose, through our involvement in the Jewish high holidays, with a local Messianic synagogue. I met another one of my husband’s friends there, that I also never knew what to think or make of his behavior. All I knew was that I was getting some of the same energy from this guy, but there was else something in the mix, that I couldn’t identify. That’s rare for me, but I have learned, through many experiences, that if I can’t read something around someone, that I don’t need to push it. I wrote a blog post one time about how I believe that God does drop a veil over our vision, sometimes, when he knows something will just traumatize us, if we are allowed to see it, in its true form. So I wrote a blog post about what I could see and feel. It’s what I do to process what actually overwhelms me, spiritually and emotionally.
About 2 months later, I made a decision, that I didn’t know was going to open new doors to me, that I had never known before. I went to my first cosplay convention, because, to be honest, I was trying to escape from personal reality, that was just producing tremors in my soul. Pain that is neverending, and seems to serve no practical end or purpose, just becomes despair. My whole world came to a full stop in a moment, when I realized, that what I was really running from, was the experiences, that everyone with any kind of spiritual and/or artistic gift was reeling from the pain of, as well. Sadly, vision is what will be grieved the most, while people expect to be entertained by it. I have never understood that. You can’t demand the benefit of something, while staying offended that it is actually working the way it was created to, and not become irrelevant, by overplaying your cards. I spent the next 2 years, trying to process what kept revealing itself to me, over and over again. Over the next several months, I met so many new people, that opened doors, and gave me access to opportunities, that I had literally never had before. This put me into alignment with something, that I thought was going to be the death of me. In hindsight, I call it, “crossing the streams.” In the original Ghostbusters movie, this came as a dire warning, that if you did this, life as you know it, would end in an instant. This is true in abstract terms, as well, whether anyone chooses to understand or not. Stepping into another’s world, and learning to see and feel what they do, while listening to their reasons, without feeling the need to defend your own world, is where the deepest levels of empathy are born. There is nothing comfortable about this. It stretches you, in every way, imaginable, and brings you into the awareness of levels of torment, that you may not have experienced yourself. I have heard it expressed in song lyrics, that this is basically what it feels like to be crucified because you wouldn’t be in the place you are in if you had not been willing to sacrifice something valuable within yourself, even if it is just your own comfort and sense of security. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was being prepared for was what would be needed in the next season, by those that I would cross the paths of, that needed what I could provide, even in the simplest ways, that would take more courage on my part, than theirs.
Prior to all of this, the opportunity for the new life, that I had been promised for years was made possible. Just because something becomes possible, doesn’t mean that it will produce the fruit that it could. We still have the choice, at any given time, to slam the door, and choose to believe what we want, true or not. Some things will only make sense, in reverse, when the pieces start falling into place. We need both the good and bad experiences, to create a full circuit, so that power can flow, and give us light in places, that have been darkened for us by those that see our abilities as a threat to their desires. My husband and I were asked to be the directors of a weekend retreat for young men, that we would give a marriage testimony on, while also being proxy parents to those that needed a hug, and a shoulder to cry on. This was a life-changer. I am sure that anyone that has taken ministry this seriously, knows that it makes all of your own issues boil to the surface. We could have qualified for a reality show, during that season. You could have heard a pin drop in that room, when we gave our marriage talk, because we told a real story, that no one saw coming. That weekend ended with my husband, getting down on one knee, and asking me to marry him again, with tears streaming down his face. After all the years of confusion, chaos, and hurt feelings, I believe we understood the value of covenant on that day, in a way that would give us a stable foundation, to build a future on.
Fast-forward three years, we found ourselves in some uncharted territory, because we had moved beyond generational influences, and had chosen to do what was necessary to keep our promises to one another. I often felt like I was hanging on by a thread in this. Then, one day, my husband came to me and asked me if I was willing to take in a friend of his, that was choosing voluntary homelessness, over staying bound to drug addiction, that was destroying his whole world. Normally, I would have said no. But it was someone that served in a leadership position, on the weekend that we were directors on in 2014. What he needed more than anything else, was to be given some hope, that life was still possible for him. I went and picked him up, loaded his things into the back of my van, took him somewhere to eat, and brought him back to our house to take a shower and gave him a bed to sleep in. The levels of joy that started to rise out of him, within the next several days, were nothing short of euphoric. The energy in the atmosphere around him was crackling with intensity. It took so little to revive what was only lying dormant within him. He was only with us for a few days, before he found a new job, his own place to live, and a new life, that wasn’t possible before. We took him out to a fairly nice dinner the night he left, to celebrate his recovery. After everything settled, I began to process it all and realized that what this friend had really brought to our table, when we fed him, was a level of stability, that was desired and needed by us. He fed us spiritually after we fed him physically. He told me one day, that he found Jesus in a crack house, with a needle in his arm. I believed him, more than I had ever believed anyone, that professed faith because it was grace, that had dramatically rescued him from certain death. His joy was flowing out of a place of salvation and redemption, because of the sacrifices that had been made to bring him to a place of wholeness. This is the reality of shalom. We typically hear that in Judaism as a greeting on Shabbat, which is a day of rest. That, in a very real sense, is what we had provided for our friend, in the smallest details. I have never bought into the whole concept of conversion because it isn’t Biblical or practical. We can’t save people, we can only love them, in whatever way they need themselves. And, of course, whatever you establish for another, when they need it, is going to overflow onto you later on. I would much rather experience this, than a backlash, from my own judgments of the pain in someone else’s life, that I believe they deserve to suffer in. I love this quote. “God gives beauty for ashes, even if you started the fire.” That means that mercy doesn’t look for, or focus on all the reasons punishment is deserved, but makes connection to life accessible, through our own response to it. It also means that something greater can rise up out of the grief that we have known and/or have given to others. This is what has given me meaning for the title that I gave this post.