musings of a saint and sinner

Monday, December 19, 2005

i saw love today... the form of a devoted elderly husband, Bob. His wife, Ruth, is way gone into dementia and advanced Alzheimers. And yet he visits her constantly, never deserting her, despite the fact that she cannot give back to him anymore. His longtime family friend, a retired woman has stood by the couple as the wife deteriorated through the years. The pastor and I went to visit Ruth on her birthday today, hand-delivering her birthday card, though she can no longer recognize anyone or understand what is being said to her. As I entered the room, I saw the retired woman stroking Ruth's face, touching her with the greatest love and senstivity and comforting...treating her as a human being. My eyes all but welled up with tears. But even more I felt those tears coming as I saw how Bob looked at Ruth...seeing in her perhaps the joys of past years...feeling in his heart the great sorrow of losing her daily, little-by-little. And yet, he too stood beside her, stroking her face, massaging her temples, loving and cherishing her..."til death us do part." And I thought of how feeble my own love sometimes is, in comparison with such devotion. Don't get me wrong...I have no illusions that Bob feels happy or romantic about his situation. It is probably a daily grief, a dull ache, something unfulfilling and empty inside. But Bob...and his friend...know what real love is love poured out for the good of another, regardless of whether one gets something in return. It is standing by someone, even when they are weak, unattractive, unable to do anything for themselves anymore. It is sacrificial. And nothing in this world is more beautiful...I hope that--despite the pain--he knows that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

i thank God for unanswered prayers...

This morning I was at a Bible study and we were talking about prayer...and I got to reflecting on the many prayers I used to make...particularly for some particular fellow to fancy me...and how many of them would have been stupid, bad matches. Sometimes the fellows were just not mature emotionally or spiritually or relationally. Sometimes they were mature enough, but just a wrong personality combination with me (so hard to see when you're mooning after one...!). Not that I know the reason why God said no to all of my requests. Some of them were nice, decent guys. But sometimes I think it is nothing short of miraculous that God finally did set me up with a man who was mature, a good communicator, intelligent, my equal (not above or below me), and strong in commitment. I mean, there were so many times when I was willing to settle for less, so if it were left up to me, I probably would have less. I can't make sense of why I found the man that I did. It seems to be a stroke of grace and that alone.

It reminds me of a song by Garth Brooks called "Unanswered Prayers." In the song he talks about how long and hard he prayed for God to give him a relationship with one particular girl ("And if he'd only grant this wish I wished back then...I'd never ask for anything again"). They date, but it doesn't last...then, years later, he runs into her at an outing with his wife...and he realizes how rich he is in what God has given him. That's just how I feel, although I remember listening to that song after a terrible break-up and not believing it could be true. But it is...

"Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of god’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.
She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn’t much we could recall
I guess the lord knows what he’s doin’ after all.
And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life."

a word about shame

I had a revelation last night. You know, sometimes it can be so hard to overcome issues of shame and low self-esteem because we just feel we are not worth it. We truly believe we are lousy. But it occured to me last night that shame towards ourselves is a sin against our neighbor, i.e., against other people. The reason? Because when we have shame toward ourselves, it gets in the way of a vital, giving relationship with others. It blocks the give and take of equals. It makes us harder to love others. So, if you cannot say no to the shaming lies for your own sake, maybe it will help to do it for your neighbor's sake. Give them a "you" that is whole and believing the truth.

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