Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Expected Life

This life that we experience is not about our own prosperity here on earth, but about glorifying and worshipping in all that we do experience good and bad. Being thankful for all we get to experience, for there is always something to be thankful for even in the face of the most troubled times. It is only when we concentrate on the “bad” in life which is only “bad” to us because it is not the way we expected life or things to be going. When we “expect” in life—predetermine what our lives should look like, we are merely concentrating on what we don’t have or don’t get to experience while others in past or present lives did or do get to experience and that in turn is idolatry of what is not meant for us by God.

For example my own story, I could simply look at my situation in the death of my daughter as bad. Through my own free will, I can choose to look at it from the standpoint of, why did my daughter die at the age of 14 months? Why didn’t I get to see her grow up and graduate and get married? Why did this happen to me? In taking this approach, am I not merely thinking about what past “lives” have looked like, what life “Expectancies” are instilled in us from birth by worldly standards? We are told and taught that when life is “good” your life will look like this, and when that doesn’t happen, then life is “bad.” So when our lives take an unexpected turn for the worse, “unexpectedly worse” by worldly standards because they are not they way life should be or the way we want life to be. However in doing this am I not merely comparing my life and my situation of my loss, or what I don’t get to experience in the life of my daughter growing up, am I not just comparing that to what other father’s do get to experience, which is then idolizing another person’s life, for in my own life I am not experiencing things that others are? Rather, I can take an approach of gratitude and thankfulness and appreciation for what I did have or did experience. I experienced fourteen wonderful months with the most beautiful girl I have ever laid my eyes on. Can I not take that approach, and be rejoicing to God for granting me those fourteen months, instead of saying why do I not get to have more, for would that not just be greed, and in saying that wouldn’t I just be saying that, if I can’t have all that I want, then I want nothing at all? Meaning, in questioning the circumstances of my daughter’s life, not being able to experience certain things with her, am I not just saying that, if I cannot have all that I expect to have with her and through her, then I want nothing with her at all? In that, am I not saying that what I had was not enough, and then making less of my daughter’s life, saying it wasn’t what was expected to be, so therefore it was “less.” In taking this approach however, it does not take away the pain and the grief that is still felt. No, it does not take that away, for that pain is merely felt with its intensity, due to the love that was felt. However, in taking this approach, it does in great measure give that pain and suffering substance, purpose, and drive, to see good in it, and from it, for without that good the pain would be felt for no reason. Either way the pain is going to be felt, only because of the love that was felt.

In closing, for me it cannot be about “why things happen” or “why there is ‘evil’” but that it is there and it will happen, and the only thing I can control is how I will respond when it does. Will I allow it to be about me and let it be the downfall of me, or will I be thankful for what I do have and let it be what drives me to appreciate the smallest of things, and see everything as a gift from God, and not as life going as expected by worldly standards and taking this life for granted.

I must say I don't always live my life this way, and I have allowed it to be about me, and maybe that is why I felt led to write this. This is how I feel God has called me to "suffer" well. I know for me, I have not "suffered" well in this life, but as I learn more about the character of God, I am able to learn more about who He created me to be, and how He created me to live. I am finding out more and more, and I am learning that there is no destination, but just one continuous journey, of revelation, repentance and rejoicing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Front of My Reflection

Front of my Reflection

Taking that dreaded, unwanted, walk to the mailbox, for what seemed to be the hundredth time that day. Knowing I had to bear that frigid cold again, but not caring, I had to see if it arrived yet. The sun blanketed by the dark granite clouds, the gloom seemed to be washed over everything, not just my heart. Trying to rush before the frigid air could numb my hands, I reached that black box, letting out that all to familiar, wretched, screech as I opened it. My heart filled with pain and sadness. Yet still clutching to a glimmer of hope, could it be, could this be the day it arrives? Looking inside, there it was, covered with tape, words “Fire Fighter Kevin Newman” perfectly placed in bold black letters, as if written by the hands of an angel. Quickly, snatching it from it’s cave of darkness, I almost danced back to the front door. Shutting the door quickly behind me, not even letting it close fully before I disrobed my jacket. I began the loathsome, dreaded, task of opening that box. My body filled with the chaos of a hundred emotions battling for control, none seemed strong enough to win, except the apprehension, of what this meant. Finally it would no longer be just a mental design, it would now be a badge of honer, worn, with chest inflated, shoulders back, and head held high. Pulling the last piece of tape, the unfolded flaps gave way to the plastic it had been so meticulously wrapped in. Separating it from the protective sheath, there it was, staring back at me, countless hours of designing, and reflecting, now organized and positioned in my calloused hands. Finding it’s path from birth, nothing more than a thought, to now presenting itself before me. Starting to become blurry, I could barely make out the details, not realizing that when I blinked, the floodgates of my eyes, holding back the raging river that had been suppressed for weeks, gave way. The stress, and the mountain of emotions, seemed to all make their way to the surface, debilitating me, for what seemed like a lifetime. Finding a small, split second gap in the flood of emotions, flowing profusely from my face. I caught a flash of clarity of what was before me. Crisp edges, marking out the blueprint for what was to be laid within. This helmet front, this badge of courage, was unlike any other I had bolted to my fire helmet in the past. This one, was for me, for my family, for my sanity, for my healing. This one, I pray no other man has to earn, this one was for my daughter.

“Reagan Marguerite Newman” embossed deeply into the center of the shield, also into my heart. Never forgetting, the impression placed upon my life, by her. Remembering how both of her teeth sparkled, as I lovingly called out “Reagie,” the name I had given her, now flew in a banner of golden yellow, mixed with the white of snow, on the upper left corner. The gentle tone of coral, matching the ribbon I hand painted across her entire nursery, washed over the shield setting the mood for what was to come. I found myself unable to fight off the curiosity of what must had been roaring through the mind of the leather worker as he etched the numbers “11/07/07-01/13/09” under her name. Did he clutch tightly to those that had meant so much in his life? Did he flip through the file cabinet of memories in his head, of those that have met face to face with our loving Creator? Or, did he try to drown those thoughts in a bottle as I had done so many times before she was born. Maybe the divine blessing of a child rendered him sober also, forcing him to now feel every emotion that was designated in this unique shield. Considering the task before him, did he reflect on his own relationship with Jesus, as he hammered the heart encrusted cross into the right corner, placing it perfectly above the billowy white clouds, realizing this was gonna be the only definitive way he could ever endure a pain so tragic? As he dyed the wings edge of the butterfly, soaring from the clouds, could he grasp onto the intensity of the love that was encased into my heart for this little girl, could he hear my heart crying out for her? For just one more touch of her lips upon mine, or just one more scent of lotion cascading from the top of her head, dusted slightly with golden bronze hair. A love that was not isolated to myself, but that was enjoyed by everyone that fell into the hypnotizing trance of her eyes. Did he know just how missed she was, how her mother and brother and I, are not the same with out her? Did he understand that we didn’t have a long time to spend with her on this earth, but that the time she was here, the memories we have embedded themselves into our hearts, and will carry on her name for ever. As he glued the final piece into place, the ebony plaque with the 14 karat gold trim, boasting the words “A Life So Short, But Touched So Many”, I think he was able to soak up every tear of detail in this reflection.