Wednesday, December 09, 2009

When I stop asking why...

Sigh... the weather here is wretched. On Monday we had our first "bad driving" snow (only about an inch but it made the roads unexpectedly slick). Today we had sleet and rain with all expected to turn back to snow in the morning. I have found rain falling when the temperatures are in the 30s to be much colder than lower temps and snow. Talk about bone chilling... at least we're missing the blizzard conditions to our west. I'm staying inside where it is warm and cozy today with chicken soup simmering on the stove.

I was thinking of the "why" question yesterday morning as I sat in our car, parked "downtown" with the heat on to keep me warm. My eyes watched a line forming in front of the urban ministry building... single mothers, old men, Hispanics and African Americans, a very young Goth couple, a tall guy with two degrees from a world class university. Oh, wait... that man is my husband! :)

That line was our first of three once-a-month stops at food pantries yesterday. We schedule them so we can go to all three on one trip to save gasoline. What made this particular wait even more interesting... I was reading an old Christmas issue of Traditional Home, which had been free on the library's magazine table.

What a difference between the lifestyles in the magazine and those in that long line for government food with advertisements for $4,000 crystal bowls, stemware at $200.00 each, plates at $150.00 each... yikes.

Why? Why me... why us? I get e-mails quite often about my good attitude toward all of this and how is it possible? Well my friends, I have already gone through the "Jacob moments" as I wrestled a few personal angels here and there. I have gone through the grief stage and the annoyance stage and the coveting stage and the "stomp my feet and pout" stage until He had me where He wanted me... the "Your will and not my own" stage.

He has used life's circumstances to mold and shape this lump of clay until she could look at life as it is and not how she would like it to be and find... that which is lovely.

I truly, truly believe as we are doing our best to follow Christ, He does not allow anything in our life that does not pass through the fingers of His Will first. It is easy to kneel at His feet and tell Him that He can do with our lives what He wills. It is another thing when His Will makes us have to live... less than comfortable... lives.

Send us to Africa but not the unemployment line! I'll suffer in the Sudan feeding the poor but don't give me diabetes or cancer. We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice but with... boundaries. Then we complain when He uses us in a different way than we planned. Like those who followed Moses into the desert, we accuse Him (God, not Moses) of trying to kills us. Mother Theresa is credited for saying, "If this is the way He treats His friends, I would hate to see how he treats His enemies". :)

I will unpack the items brought home from the food pantries. Some are very good and we'll be able to use. Others go into sacks to take to our church's food pantry as they are not beneficial to diabetics are those with food sensitives. Regardless... we are grateful.

I'll never completely know why this side of Eternity and on the other side I probably won't care. But I do know this... the only way I would enter this world of young Goth couples, poor African Americans, Hispanic single mothers, and very old and poor men... is by God's direction.

Most days I feel that I live in two worlds. As I write, my husband is sitting at our dining table with an old college friend as they discuss ways to help their fraternity on campus. Yes, this morning he is standing in freezing temperatures (and let me stay in the warm car until they opened the doors) for government food and this afternoon he is discussing his old college fraternity.

For the past few weeks, I have driven to campus each day to meet Christopher after his last class. Students speaking various languages sit around me discussing science and math and engineering and literature and... well, you get the point.

According to what place I am meeting him, I could be sitting next to a freshman or a Noble Prize winner, a graduate student or an astronaut. All while I scrambled for fifty-two cents in my coat pocket to buy a cup of coffee.

But that is how I have learned to have a good attitude, it is all in the way I now see this trip into an entirely different world than I'd ever planned to enter (much less remain). After the complaining and after the whining and after that whole "angel wrestling thing"... I see the world through His eyes and not my desires... and He reminds me I am just passing through... and I did say "Thy will and not mine be done".

So, I hope that answers some of the questions I've been getting. Attitude is a choice. I know there are many readers experiencing a difficult time this Christmas. Keep your eyes on what is good and trust God in the journey. He has a way of bringing JOY into the life which is full of expectation. :)


Raquel said...

This is a beautiful post, Brenda. We are so foolish to question the maker of everything. But trust comes so hard for so many of us. When we do reach that trust, tho, and conquer our very human fears, it feels like standing on the edge of a very high cliff . . . and knowing you can go right on ahead and step over the edge, because he will catch you before you ever start to fall. And what do we have to fear anyway - this is not our eternal home. Much love - Raquel XO

Suze said...

Wise words from one who knows. When I was a single mom and raising my daughter, who was full of resentment at all the things other families had, I used to tell her that if her life was perfect, what would she have to offer the world of hurting people - for the majority of this planet is filled with hurting people, not prosperous people - and they are looking for an answer. We know the answer is Christ. The plain truth is that people who never have a problem may be fine believers, but who can relate to them - who can they comfort? It feels so much more real when a person who has walked the tough path extends the hand of comfort and faith.

Anonymous said...

The old song we sang when I was young went: "Little is much when GOD is in it, labor not for wealth or fame, there's a crown and you can win it, when you go in Jesus' name." I think you have found so many ways to make "little" to be "much". And really the things that matter most are relationships and one can be rich in those, even if not in worldly things. I am glad you have enough to survive. And that you too, have found, even in the midst of "little", you can still share with others some of what you have. In the time coming upon us, I think much of what you share here will be of help to others, and no doubt already is to others who are already in the stage of life that you are. Blessings and thanks for sharing these wise ponderings.

Lisa Z said...

Thank you for your honesty. We can remember that in God's eyes, the young Goth couple, the poor Latinos and African Americans, the guy with two University degrees, and all of us, are equal. I am sad for you that you have less than you once did, but happy that you're still able to live well. It is true as Suze said that most of the world, in fact the VAST majority, has much less than the poorest American. That doesn't make the hurt and the difficulty any less, but maybe it gives us compassion for those who live in poverty. I read online comments from so-called "conservatives" who would look down their nose at you and all those folks at the food pantries. They also look down their noses at those who run and work the food pantry, as it's bringing "trash" into our community, blah blah blah. But my oh my, where would Jesus be? Right there at the food line with you! And so should all of us, his followers and his body here on earth, be doing that work if we can. Thank God for food pantries and people who share, as well as those who need. When I have volunteered overnight at homeless shelters, it is those homeless folks who I think are the true saints.

Sharon said...

Your posts never fail to bless and inspire me.As I read this I felt "amen"rising up from my spirit.If we did not live in an apartment I would shout "AMEN!"Steve and too are where you and husband are.Living on disability with chronic medical conditions.Going to a food pantry once a month(in Oregon that is all we are allowed).And I too have wrestled with those angels and feel I have won.:-)Our life pre-husband's stroke and such was not as cushy as yours BUT we have seen our own losses of things like regular haircuts,fishing licenses and road trips to various parts of Oregon,etc.not to mention loss of health and ability to work outside the home.We also now get help with our rent from the city we live in.Not an ideal life BUT we have seen amazing miracles of His provision via the hands of His other,more well off children and it's been wonderful and humbling both.I could write a book here but just know I completely understand you and am blessed to"know"you via this blog.Yours is the first one I read daily!Love you~Sharon

Heather said...

Brenda - your thoughts bless my heart as I sit here reading. We are in the midst of an odd blizzard like snow storm - but the winds are so high it sounds like a freight train going overhead! I just feel so blessed to be home with our children, warm and together - all that we need and so much more. It hasn't been too long since the last time I wondered 'why?' concerning my chronic health issues, but I am learning more and more to trust that God is working it all out for His good purpose, and when I see our children growing in compassion, flexibility and faith, it truly encourages my heart.

Kelly said...

This post is a true blessing. It is so good to have time to visit you again. I have missed reading your inspiring writings.

We, too, are not where we were about a year-and-a-half ago financially, but are grateful for the blesssing of being able to rid ourselves of credit card debt before this time came upon us.

As for Christmas, it's not so difficult if we keep the proper perspective and remember the true reason we celebrate -- Jesus! We will most likely be starting a new tradition this year due to necessity, but one I wanted to start before but didn't -- to get our children only three gifts each, and not anything elaborate this year for certain, because three gifts are what Christ received from the wise men, so why should our children need to receive more?

God bless you, Brenda.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post Brenda. It made me cry, but in a good way. Wise words that I needed just now :)

scrappy quilter said...

Wonderful post. Attitude is a choice. I agrew wholeheartedly. Hugs..

matty said...

Here is a hug and a thank you to you for this post!



Brenda Leyland said...

You've shared a very hopeful and encouraging posting.... I know many will find rest and hope in your words.

Your light shines beautifully!

Gayle @ Mountain Moma said...

I appreciate your transparency. I too believe that nothing comes that does not have a blessing. I appreciated the saying, "enough is a feast" last year when we were struggling.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

So beautifully expressed. Thanks! V.

Anonymous said...

It is nice getting to know you by way of your blog. I know what "tight" times are as I remember many times as a child where we either had beans (the soaked and cooked kind), plain macaroni, or oatmeal. My mother never put enough water in the pan when she cooked the oatmeal and it was always thick and dry. (At the time we didn't know what the problem was.) If I may ask a question, is your pantry stock still in good stead or have you used most of that already?