Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
I just gotta get this off my chest.
Yesterday was my daughter Kami's baptism. I was so excited for her. Heidi and I were pumped to be able to baptize her together. Family was in town. The stage was set for something really amazing.
But then something happened inside me that I can't explain even with a good night of sleep under my belt and some time to process yesterday's emotions. As I was sitting there in the service waiting for the baptism, I made a determination that I would not cry so as to not steal away the moment from Kami and turn the focus upon me. A decision I now regret because I spent most of my mental energy trying not to cry and used up the energy that helps you be normal.
The baptism came and I struggled to be normal. I couldn't talk sensibly. My brain was spinning around in circles and I couldn't frame what I wanted to say. Here is my daughter sitting in the baptismal tank and I'm lost for words. I communicate as a profession...and I'm sitting there stupefied in a moment of paralyzed pathos.
My tongue wouldn't work, like a nightmare where you're trying to run from your pursuers and your legs feel like molten lead. My tongue felt swollen and palsy. My brain runny and restless. Kami was looking at me and it felt like her eyes were saying, "Dad, why are you ruining my baptism with your incompetence?" I know she wasn't, but it's hard for me to not feel that. I was a "no show" and it was my eldest daughters baptism. Of all times to go limp.
I started talking and said something that didn't relate to the next thing I said that couldn't have been further from the context of the next thing I said. Nothing meshed together. Nothing made sense. To make matters worse I dove into a conversation Kami and I had about sex on the way home the other night. It really did have a point, but after I led out with a couple sentences, I forgot what that point was until later in the day. Thus, it just felt like I interjected two sex comments into a baptism moment for no apparent reason. I wanted to share how much I loved her inquisitive heart and how I loved our deep conversations spurred on by her questions. I wanted to affirm the richness of her heart and how proud I am that she cares so deeply about weighty things.
Instead of that, I uttered detached logic strung together with nonsensical words leading to a feeling of "what the heck is my deal" filling my whole being. After botching the whole baptism, we proceeded to dunk her and as she came up out of the water and we moved out of the tank for others to occupy, I just felt like I wanted to go somewhere lonely to hide myself away. I wanted to cry...I was crying inside. I felt like I got ambushed. And my daughter paid for my idiotic showing.
I was struggling, for some reason, with being a pastor and a daddy. The two roles don't often seem different to me, but they did during this baptism. I was wrestling with performance anxiety. I was overthinking. I was overstrategizing. I was overfeeling. I was overwhelmed with a fantasy world inside my head. And I couldn't break free from that. I tried and I couldn't.
I'm sure more could be said. I feel terrible for my daughter.
I went out with her for breakfast before school today. It was more for me than for her. I just needed to feel close to her and to talk to her about how I felt. I actually apologized to her for not saying all that I wanted to say to her in that moment. She probably wasn't listening anyway...but like I said, I just needed to say it for my own heart's sake. I told her this morning what I really felt yesterday about her decision to follow God in baptism.
Man, I wish I could go back and get my poop in a group. But life is such that you have to go on and make the best with what you got.I just can't shake this abiding feeling of disappointment in myself and sorrow for my daughter. I know, I'm messed up
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
The Fall. It evokes two entirely polar opposite responses in me.
On the one hand “The Fall” represents a time in history when all that was pure and good and innocent was traded for “The Knowledge of God and Evil”. The Tree of Life just wasn’t enough. Mankind picked the wrong tree and we are left with knowledge instead of life. Dang.
But this idea of trees brings me to “the fall” that surfaces probably one of the most nostalgic and idyllic feelings I experience within the cycle of a year. Trees start shedding leafs to prepare for the brutal Michigan winter storing sap like a squirrel stores nuts. Leafs start dying a slow death as the tree stops nourishing them. They hang on as long as possible changing color as if holding their breath in suffocation.
Leaves are at their peek of beauty right now, gloriously dying with honor. It is a pageantry of elegance and splendor. Maples are fighting for the best red hue. Oaks are turning orange and salmon and bronze. Ash are displaying as assortment of yellows as diverse and unique as a human’s fingerprint. All the other trees are filling in the missing colors in between making each patch of woods majestic.
The Fall of Mankind was most certainly a death, and a death of epic proportions. It changed the course of history and wrote upon every human heart the depravity of our first ancestors. I can feel it hover over me each morning as I wake, greeting me with the kiss of Judas. It is the sinister curse of sin crouching at everyone’s door waiting to pounce on the party of life. This kiss burns and sends a spell of death coursing through our veins speaking foul words into our heart that seek to suffocate us, cutting us off from the life source of creation. I can feel it all around me.
But the Fall of Creation speaks of another story happening even as death pulls us downward, and the gravity of depravity assists the spiraling freefall. It reminds us that within the dying, God has mysteriously woven something beautifully redemptive. As we die something magnificent occurs. The vibrant color only serves as a harbinger of what is to come, a forerunner announcing the consummation of what can only be called “unlikely” redemption.
As the luminous leaf alights the earth awaiting its impending funeral, its texture becomes hard and brittle eventually decomposing and nourishing the seeds that fell earlier in the spring. The seeds die (at least to the naked eye)blanketed under the layers of dead leaves and all hope is lost as the autumn rain pounds them into the cracks and crevices of the earth burying all hope of their survival. They are covered with thatch and mud and compost, laid to rest forever forgotten.
The cold winter tortures creation with hail and frost and ice, harassing vegetation with such fierce frigidity that it goes into a shock called dormancy. This coma, ironically enough, actually keeps the seeds alive as they weather the inclement conditions of winter.
The spring thaw wakes up the unconscious seeds and breathes life into their membranes. They are called out of the tomb-womb and raised to new life. The death is swallowed up in victory, as nature becomes a symbol of God’s redemption of man from the fall.
Like Jesus said, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies…” …oh, you know the rest. Life, color, beauty, fall, death, burial, redemption, thawing, spring, restoration.
The Fall is a bittersweet phrase…it speaks of both depravity and glory, destruction and redemption, death and life. I love the Fall. It has given God such a awesome canvas on which to paint something so resplendently redemptive. The color of the gospel can’t be seen without it.
Friday, October 17, 2008
This morning Aly was sitting at the breakfast table and she proceeded to tell me that she felt left out at school when all the other kids at recess were chanting, “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear.” She said that she wanted to sing the song with them, but knew that she shouldn’t say the part about exposing someone’s “privates” by yanking down their underwear. I concurred.
We then talked about “being different”. They started talking about how everyone said naughty words and that sometimes they felt like saying them and how everyone was going to “High School Musical 3” and how everybody was goo-goo-gaa-gaa over Hannah Montana, etc…these are the modern day applications of temptation to them.
For the record, I don’t think the Treat or Treat song or the word “stupid” or the viewing of HSM 3 will forever ruin my children. But I do feel that at their age, there are many things to be taken into consideration as their little spirits develop. Until they can understand sarcasm or the true meaning of certain words or the dynamics of kissing a member of the opposite sex passionately and its implications in the volatile years of High School, I feel they serve to strike a decisive blow to the innocence of their childlike hearts. Until there is more understanding and maturity…things that aren’t wrong in and of themselves can be destructive if they aren’t age-appropriately applied. I say this to my own rebuke.
I, all too often, underestimate what is at stake in my children’s lives at any given second. What appears to be a trivial moment or word or visualization, is so much more than that. It is shaping their ideology, their very reality. What they are supposed to look like. What they are supposed to act like. What they are supposed to talk like. What they are supposed to, ultimately, be like. And what they see is what they will be. What they hear is what they will say. What they will watch is what they will wear. What they witness is what they want.
I think we are too forgiving as a culture as it relates to what we think our kids can handle. We think they have the apparatus to sift through delicate situations they see in movies, and they don’t yet. We think they have the mechanics to delineate between fantasy and reality, and they don’t. We think they can look but not touch. Partake and not emulate. We think they can be exposed without it affecting and infecting their volatile and fragile little souls. From my vantage point, I think we’re full of crap to think so.
Or maybe it’s just trifling with nonsense to think that puny things like “underwear” and the word “dummy” and “kissing teenagers” make a whipstitch of difference in the development of their inner child. Maybe it’s making a mountain out of a molehill. Or maybe it’s why the younger generation is growing up too fast…so fast that their insides are forever trying to catch up to their outsides. They know about things before they’re developmentally ready to process them…and so they don’t process them…they just believe it and behave accordingly.
I have a lot of work to do. Protecting their little hearts is harder than I could have ever imagined. But their futures depend on it.