January 28, 2015 at 7:11am
You thought your family was the safest thing to put your trust in; the surest, the most solid foundation, the best bet. You poured all your love and sweat and tears into these two or three monsters, enjoying most of it - even the dirty bits, because you knew they would grow up and be gone one day. You knew they would become loving adults, eventually, giving back some at least of what you were draining yourself of to raise them in the most healthy way possible, given the circumstances. Family - it's what's touted all around this country now as the one thing that trumps all others, and what will keep you going when it's rough, and what will pull you up when you fall, and what it's all worth it for. Family.
Until they rise up and don't call you blessed.
No, they don't always bless their mother, or their father. Sometimes for no apparent reason they demand their share of the inheritance and ride off into the sunset, cursing your name.
Or just dissolve into a heap of brain sickness.
So then you have to wonder, whence does my help come? If Family is not the solid thing I thought it was, what or who or Who is?
Its all well and good to preach about trusting in the Solid Rock of our God, but when He is less solid than your family, and they vanish from under you, what then?
I put my entire faith and everything I am in my children, my husband, my home. I didn't even know I did it. It's just what we do here in America, even we who call ourselves Christians. While preaching and teaching and believing that we ourselves put our faith wholly in the One True God, follow His Son Jesus' teachings, and pray listening for the Spirit daily, we actually take our security and serenity from our families, careers, retirement packages, etc.
I know I did, without realizing it, until they weren't there anymore to bolster my feelings for me. Then bye-bye comfort, bye-bye any feeling of accomplishment, bye-bye that cozy feeling of being surrounded by people who understand you, bye-bye security. Nothing left to cling to. So sorry. But you'll have to put your faith where you mouth is from now on.
Remember that? Faith? Faith....
"Faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" - or so you'd been taught long ago, and you'd always said you believed it. But you never really knew what you were talking about, and neither do most other people you come in contact with in your safe, comfortable, middle-class life. You just don't. Oh, you can't be blamed, really, because you've had no reason to learn what faith really is about. You may have been saved at some point from your own guilt through faith in Christ's cleansing blood, or some other denominational preference from the Gospels. But you've never had the chance to really test and prove that faith.
Till now. Till you lie awake and bereft at 2:00am and wonder, "Whence does my help come?" You're the only one who can do this; the only one who can walk by the side of the loved one, pay the bills, unstop the drain, keep the wolf from the door, keep the children from the evils of the world they are not ready for yet.... And you are not enough.
This is where faith comes in. Real faith. The real deal faith. The kind of faith the folks in South America and Africa, and Russia, and Iraq, etc. are practicing every moment of every day, or so I've heard. Faith that we Americans only sing about but never really have to learn of first hand.
Where do they get this faith, those beleaguered folks far away? Where did our forefathers get theirs? We're told their world was much harder than ours here in the good ol' US of A in the 21st century. Is that where they got their solid faith?
I asked for a chance to prove my loyalty to God, years ago when I was a rash, young thing. I was going to be true, I was. I was ready to do and dare, and be a Daniel. I was just itching for the chance to trust God to the death, like the Christians in the lion arenas.
But I wasn't in 1st century Jerusalem or Greece or wherever those first Christians proved our faith. So I waited in vain for a chance to prove mine, not seeing the chances in front of my face, of course. I worked on blending in with the culture around me, because more than anything I craved inclusion, acceptance, and a happy circle of friends to which I truly belonged.
Only I didn't belong anywhere until I went to college and found my music family in the choir at Chapman. I wonder if this was how my daughter felt before and when she found Willowbrook.... I knew who I was then and evermore.... Until I had children. Then I REALLY knew who I was forevermore.... Until they started growing up.
Then I had nothing.
"Faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
My faith apparently had become nonexistant, one of those things not seen and only hoped for. Three long years I toiled to remember who I was, Whose I was, and why I thought I was here. But my poor brain, creative as it is, cannot conjur the presence of God. He remains on His own terms hidden in the shadows and springing forth in the bright sun, lurking behind the clouds and buried in the ground with a loved one. He is not subject to conjuring, nor to anything else. But His own Love for us.
This is why we venerate the family; it mirrors God's love for us, for the Church. In the middle of the night, if I am not to die of a heart attack brought on by the stress of carrying my son and my daughter in my mind constantly, I must remember the faith I grew at the age of 10, 11, 12..... and through my high school years. I must recall the innocence of that trust, a very child-like thing, not seeking to reason or to find explanations, only accepting.
Because to tell the truth, that's the only thing there is to do at 2:00am when you lie awake and bereft wondering who's going to replace the light bulb you can't reach, or decide where your brain sick son will live, or make the connection with your daughter that she'll finally understand....
"Remember," Luke Skywalker mouthed in the fighter jet, as the voice of Alec Guinness shut out the sounds of the world-altering battle around him.
Remember... "I AM with you always, even unto the end of the world."
Faith. That's all there is to it.