Friday, June 3, 2011

From the Ruins

Last night I had trouble sleeping. I was thinking about my city. I was thinking about many things.

Several years ago I had a vivid dream. I always know when a dream is supposed to mean something because it is nothing like my usual dreams, which are little snippets of things my subconscious picked up throughout the day, mixed together. In this dream, I was back in Springfield, Mass., where I lived from age 10 1/2 in 1985 until 2003. I was in Springfield, and a tornado was coming down Sumner Ave. I stood outside the Bing theater and wrapped my arms around a small tree. As the tornado went over I screwed my eyes shut, hanging on for dear life, bending with the tree. Then suddenly the wind was gone. When I opened my eyes, everything around me was pure white. I don't remember seeing destruction. Instead, everything seemed to be covered with snow. My eyes were dazzled. I felt such a peace and calm come over me. Everything felt new again.

When I awoke I felt as if the dream had to mean something. I never thought that years later an actual tornado would roar in a straight line through Springfield, less than a half-mile from where the tornado had in my dream. And still I'm left wondering: What does it mean?

Last night I tossed and turned and thought of upheaval and distress and loss that Wednesday's tornado had left behind, the houses sheared half away and off their foundations and mammoth trees uprooted.

I thought about how easy it is to thank God when all is well in life, and how we ask, "Where is He?" during the storms. I thought about how many times I'd even done that in the past week or month. This isn't the way it's supposed to be, I've often muttered, about the way life is going, about the prayers not yet answered.

And something in me as I tossed and turned felt as if God was saying, "What you really mean is, 'This isn't something I can control.' Do you want things to go your way so you can move on and forget me?"

In the morning, I opened my Bible and went looking for Job. He lost his family. The great wind came and destroyed them. His body was afflicted with sores. His wife asked him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"

Job replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

I read that verse and realize how shallow my faith can be sometimes. I realized how effortlessly I can jump up and thank God when Ethan is accomplishing a new skill and I'm getting a great report on him from his teachers. Even more sobering is that it's so easy, on those good days, to thank God and get on with my day...kind of like a, that was great God, now I'm moving on to MY thing.

And yet what God asks is for me to cling to him the way I did in the dream, desperate, knowing all is lost without Him. Sometimes that is so easy to see in the midst of the storm. Yet when life gets back to just being life and not tragedy, how quickly our sense of how much we NEED Him diminishes.

What would life be like, I am wondering, if I clung to Him like that every day? I think...I think something beautiful and unimaginable would come from that -- like the sparkling snow in my dream, transforming my surroundings.

People love to throw around that cliche about triumph rising out of the midst of tragedy. I am already hearing some incredible stories about how people from inside the Springfield community and far beyond are coming together to help the city heal. I pray that continues.

I pray for all of us that we remember whatever trials we face are not for us to blaze through on the way to wrestling back control of our lives again. They are to open our eyes to a new way of living, day in and day out, a way of life where hope, our mood, our praise, does not spring from what's going right or wrong or what we have brought about with our own efforts...but from Christ alone and His continual working presence in our lives.

I'm preaching to myself here, more than anyone: God, help me to remember you.

Job never got answers on why that disaster that struck him happened. Instead, he got God. God, reminding him of all that He is. Our human minds struggle so mightily with this. We invest so much effort searching for answers to the wrong questions. We have trouble understanding or accepting the mystery... He is the answer.


Anonymous said...

Thank you! That was what I needed to hear right now. I am going through some trying times with health issues that could effect the well-being of my entire family, including my son who has asperger's. I want this to be over so I can go back to being in control of our lives. I think this experience is God trying to show me that I cannot be in control, ever, and that I have to cling to him always. I'm learning slowly. Your message reinforced what I know I should continue to do: cling onto God for dear life no matter what is happening - good or bad. Thank you!

Deb said...

Anonymous, I don't know you, but I'm glad my words encouraged you...I need to go back to them myself. Praying for you as you go through this particular trial!

Anonymous said...

I noticed your blog link on a parenting support group and had to check it out. Did you always believe in God, or is this something that took a new meaning since the dx? I am really struggling with finding some solace in my sons dx. The older he gets, the more apparent that he is different from his peers. It's just breaking my heart. I don't know how to deal with it some days.

Deb said...

Anonymous, I have always believed in God, but for the longest time it was more my parents' faith or my upbringing rather than completely my own beliefs. This sounds cliche but my son's dx brought me closer to God...but not without much struggle, questionings, tears, anger, and so on. It really does come down to letting go and choosing to believe. God wants us to be real with Him, and then He can work. This is not an easy thing, I know. But He is truly near, even when we don't understand why. Again and again I learn that asking "why" is not the right's more like "how." Keeping you in my prayers...