31 May

I have been reading these posts by a friend on Facebook. That all-pervading presence that is social information personified.

She has had posts lately about feeling let down, being hurt by words, some said in malice and some said in joy – but joy she cannot share in. These are the advantages of blogging secretly. She is struggling with childlessness and it hurts to see other people’s joy.

We dramatise Hannah and Penninah as if Penninah was the worst woman alive, and Hannah the sweetest. But I think it would have hurt to know that Elkanah loved Hannah, that he kept giving her double portions out of love and concern for her. Now I don’t know how exactly bigamy works… Pretty sure I never want to. But I’m thinking if you really did love one woman, the other would have to come second. I suppose you could get away with several and kinda treat them all affectionately – but if you loved one woman, with all your heart, then she was different… And that must be a hundred different kinds of hurt!

I am in no pastoral position with this woman at all…

But my friend – I wonder if she is able to see the blessings she has. I look at her with nearly envy sometimes because she has two beautiful adopted kids and a very supportive husband (with the adoption and everything else) – and all my life, I’ve wanted to adopt.

I wonder if Hannah or Penninah ever stopped to wonder about the other person. And if they did, whether they accepted the status quo and gave their own family’s happiness their best shot. Or did those thoughts ever materialise into a different emotion? Did they ever change the way they lived their lives?

My friend’s friends – I wonder if they are able to see someone else’s pain.

I say this with 00 superiority. I sometimes do see other people’s pain and I still – get this – I still only try to remedy mine. They can deal with it, God – I’ve had that before.

These are fair responses. They’re healthy sometimes. It’s okay to say no sometimes.

But if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then conviction will come of grace beyond human ‘normal’. Wisdom also comes from the same direction – above. And there is the process of extending grace. Reluctantly. Yet heartfelt. Because God won’t let go of you. But there is also the process of wisdom and knowing when grace needs to be extended inwards – towards yourself, towards letting yourself grieve. No – correction. Making yourself grieve. Understanding that God is acquainted with grief. That joy comes from a night of weeping. That God will replace the ashes you have, but you need to face them, gather them and surrender them.

So with grace and the wisdom to show grace to yourself, God begins to seep into the clenched muscles of your soul… He is able, because in that quiet place where wisdom leads you to give yourself space and to vocalise or to hear your own grief… You begin to hear God.

I think that we live in a world where instant gratification doesn’t just exist on the commercial front. Our lives, our community have become instant. But our community isn’t only a blog or a website away – the challenge is to live with the community God calls us to. And trust me – just when you think you’ve learned to live with them, God will pull you away and make you move. Or move those ones you counted on for comfort. Family – yes, but even they are no substitute.

Until you learn over and over again to find God-space. Because we don’t wage war the way the world does. And even our thoughts are subject to the knowledge of God. I find that so intriguing – knowledge of God? So we know what God knows? Or do our thoughts need to be the way they would be if we got more intimate with God? Or do we only have the knowledge that God ordains – and every other vain thing we put away?

Perhaps a bit of all. Perhaps as we gain intimacy with God, we know more of his heartbeat… we know more of the way he thinks… we learn more of the way he thinks OF and FOR our own personal lives. Every little experience, every person in our way – they help in that process. Knowing him more. Because he is relentless about pursuing this relationship with us. He doesn’t miss a chance. Perhaps as we learn more of the way he thinks… we begin to distinguish between the obvious and not-so-obvious solutions he gives us, and the obvious solutions the world gives.

But hearing him, seeking him is so integral to that. We think we sanitise our thoughts to him – but we don’t. He hears it all. And I’m not a grace-filled, loving, soft-spoken, tender Christian at his feet – I am the mess I bring and the mess I make. Dirty, ugly, and full of pain. Just as much as any other person. I leave a little less messy every time though. A little more glory in my face.

And it’s only when I stop running that I can bring every messy thought captive to the feet of the One I am called to know, through all of the phases of my life.


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