This Deep Valley (tired ramblings at year’s end)

We get to revisit our past when we journey through childhood with our young ones. I wonder how different I would be had I not been partner to these who have come behind me and had not made these backward journeys with older, wiser eyes. I would no doubt see differently; with less compassion, less understanding.

Noah was sensitive to spiritual things from very early. He was inquisitive and serious to be so young, and he brought not only curiosity but feelings to the subject as well. This was a clear reminder to me of what I had been like and so I knew how important it was to shepherd him well. Confusion concerning spiritual matters makes for some miserable times and I didn’t want that for him. I got it nevertheless…

I’ve done a great deal of listening to Noah over the past year. Having him home was not just a good decision. It was a necessity. He had so much to work out and we are still wading through. It’s hard.

I know enough about human nature and life on planet earth to realize no life is perfect and all suffer. Yet I also know some of us are made with a bent toward the serious side of things and experience valley wanderings to a far deeper degree than others. Being this way does not hinder us from wanting to have fun. To the contrary, it makes us crave it even more. The greater jubilation we can get caught up in the farther away from the heaviness that’s always lurking we hope to get. So we try, maybe a little too hard, and some folks just don’t understand.

I feel as though the year has been a time of pause, a time to step back and see where we are and how we got here. Understanding is crucial. Noah made a comment this week that was clarifying. He explained how he once knew right from wrong from being told as opposed to knowing it now “from on the inside.” I smile knowing…a little discernment is developing. That’s good.

We’ve spent so much time on honesty, sin-what it is-that it’s common to all. I’ve also said to Noah more than once, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) This is true. Though we can discuss, and rightly so, the state of moral decay and depravity in our culture and the world, it’s always been. Let me state that again for emphasis: it has always been. Another thing I’ve said to myself as an encouragement in this difficult age is this: “no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

I wonder sometimes if we give kids the impression that things are harder for them than has ever been on other generations. Though it is true that technology makes access to impure things quite easy, 40 years ago there was plenty of impurity being found and shared. It’s what we choose to do with our time and our opportunity that must be stressed. Young people CAN make wise choices. Expect them to.

Many complex questions have been raised. We’ve talked about sin nature vs. premeditated, habitual sin. We’ve grappled with whether or not some sins are “bigger” than others and how and when to confess sin; how to know when sin is forgiven; how to even know when it’s sin nature vs. chosen sin. Man…deep, tiring stuff! But I’m thankful he asks. I’m thankful he cares enough to ask. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to understand “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” in a way I never have before; how I’ve come to see sin breaking Christ’s heart out of deep, abiding love for us rather than just from the standpoint of us transgressing against His holiness. His love is tender and ever so perceptive. He understands our temptations because He, too, was tempted. I’m not sure I realized this so well until I looked at my own son through understanding eyes; understanding from having been there as a young girl myself, hurting under the weight of my own conviction.

In the past year, we’ve left a church home of 10 years and a Christian school where we had been involved for 7. It’s been a lonely time of deep sadness, but a time of learning, a time of seeking, and a time of growth. I knew already but know even more so now that love never fails. I knew already but also know more so now that The Lord draws us closer to Himself for deeper communion to prepare us for the next part of a journey that only He can see.

I believe to grow stronger, though I don’t like it to be true, we must struggle. I remember the Easter of several years back when we watched some butterflies go through their metamorphosis. Just so happened, the final opening of their wings occurred on Easter Sunday. The evening before there was movement and before church I noticed the beginning of opening. We came home to fluttering wings in flight within the netted enclosure. What had appeared as death and waiting gave way to a vigorous, shaking struggle and culminated in open flight. This life is no different. The process of learning and unfolding occurs over time and we don’t get to soar before we wrestle our way free.

If only…if only we could love a little better; judge a little gentler, and hold a little closer, I believe life would be a little sweeter for us all. May we do it…

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