Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life Is Good…And Other Annoying Bumper Stickers

Have you ever experienced pain? Have you ever been rejected…misused…misunderstood? Have you extended your hand in friendship only to have it shunned or betrayed? Have you ever experienced a senseless tragedy or endured a broken trust? Once it happens it makes it difficult to put yourself "out there" again. Right? It is human nature to recoil from the possibility of pain, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. Yet among the many people who would recoil, retreat, stop giving, stop risking, stop trying…there are a few people who somehow pick up the pieces of their shattered egos, wills, bodies, and spirits…and keep on living…keep on giving…keep on loving.

To me, it did not make sense. Why…WHY would anyone do that to themselves? Shouldn't we protect ourselves against being hurt if we can help it; shouldn't we learn from the past mistakes and not touch the hot stove?

I know this is going to sound terrible, but a few years ago, due to the fact that my faulty reasoning was based primarily on a lack of knowledge and life experience, I thought that I could somehow avoid pain. I thought that - if I was careful enough, did all the right things, and said all the right things - I could avoid painful loss, depression, and senseless tragedies. In my mind, bad things only happened to people that somehow deserved it…or because they were not careful enough. But I was wrong! After a bit of living, rude awakenings, and more than a few unanswered questions, I realized: this is life - pain is inevitable - loss is par for the course…and, though I have nearly driven myself crazy trying to find answers for the "WHYS" in life, unanswered questions can be a blessing.

C.S. Lewis wrote about Charity ("divine love") in his book The Four Loves. In this chapter, Lewis wrote a stunningly vivid paragraph about the alternative to, and the results of not, giving of ourselves and loving others (even the unlovable), although it might bring pain and grief. He states:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

There are bad things that happen in life that just cannot be explained; and even with the knowledge that God is in control, the hurt is still there and it can seem impossible to keep going.

But in these times, if we would grasp the truth that "His strength is made perfect in our weakness…" and if we would draw near to God… not so as to try to avoid the suffering that is inherently earthly…we would find that He is the only source of peace and comfort our hearts require. If our motivation is to please God, only then can we find the joy in giving and loving sacrificially.


nana said...

Great insight Jodi-- I needed this today. Thank you
love ya

Making Memories 1999 said...

Such a GREAT post!! Good thoughts and so true!! And I think its a lesson that in a way, we keep on learning, as hard times continue to come. It reminds me of the poem that was in Mother Theresa's office "Do it Anyway"

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered,
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
If you are successful, you win
false friends and true enemies,
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow, DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY
What you spent years building
may be destroyed overnight,
People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
Give the world the best you
have and you'll get kicked

I'm glad we have a Saviour who showed us how to live "anyway"!! Thanks for the C S Lewis quote!! Great one to remember!! Thanks again for a great post!! Love ya, cuz!!

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