Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Relationship Built on Love

I've struggled with how to start his post, and I've struggled with whether it even is a post. Whether there is enough "there" there, or whether these half-formed thoughts that have been going through my head lately should just remain there. But, I've made the decision to just start boldly ahead.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how comforting I find my relationship with God. I don't mean that in a "God is always with me" or a "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" way. I've been more focusing on the nature of the relationship. The fact that I feel comfortable going to God to share my anger, my confusion, my fear and my doubt. That I am comfortable saying (probably more honest to say shouting) "How could you?" and "Why didn't you?"and "Why won't you?" and "Where are you?"

How could you let something happen like we are seeing in Haiti?

Why didn't you heal her the first time?

Why won't you take this problem away from me?

Where are you?

I'm not talking about the answers to these questions tonight. I'm just talking about how much comfort I take from the fact that I believe that God is ok with me unloading these questions/accusations. That yes, I worship Him and praise Him, but that like a good friend, He is there to take those burdens from me. That He doesn't turn from me in my anger and hurt and doubt, but that he opens His arms and meets me where I am.

As I have seen both friends and strangers going through horrible situations recently, I have wanted to tell them that it is ok to yell at God. That even just seeing what they are going through has me yelling at God. For some reason, and maybe I am wrong, I think that people are afraid to admit that they have those kind of emotions when it comes to God. I certainly know I used to be. Oh, I might have admitted to you that I had them, but admit that to God, that was a whole different matter.

Now, on the other hand, I take comfort from knowing that I can. From knowing that I can share my honest feelings with God and that He answers not with condemnation or frustration, but with His love. Really. From where I stand, it doesn't get much better than that.

Rereading this before posting, I don't think I did the topic justice and I apologize for that. I probably should have let it bounce around for a few more days and take on more substance - perhaps I should have waited until I succeeded in finding the appropriate references. But I guess the bottom line God, is that I draw comfort from knowing that our relationship is built on love and is not damaged by my questions and challenges. There is so, so much that I do not and cannot understand. You know that and still love me. And I don't only worship you as my creator, but I love you, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


While we were on vacation last summer, Alex and I took surfing lessons together. It was one of the "perks" offered by the rental company that we used - a free hour of lessons. When we signed up for it, I spoke with the instructor and he convinced me that we also should sign up for an extra hour for $20 each. So we did.

But, to explain this story, I have to back up a little bit.

On our way down to the beach, we decided to stop at an amusement park - King's Dominion - for the day. We had a lot of fun playing with the kids and riding lots of different rides. Unfortunately, though, I got hurt on one of the little roller coasters (no, it was not The Scooby Doo Roller Coaster, thank you). The ride was pretty much over and I was talking with two guys in the car in front of us, when the car slammed to a stop. I'm sure that it was supposed to be part of the fun, but I was driven right into the bar that holds you in the car. It actually knocked the breath out of me and my ribs hurt like - well, let's just say that they hurt a lot. Of course, I was too proud to admit that I was really hurt, but it did limit my activity for the next few weeks (it even hurt to lay down to go to sleep).

So there we are, getting ready to take a surfing lesson and I can't lay down on my chest on the board. I told the instructor that I would hang out in the water, but I likely would not try to surf because it just hurt too much. As it turned out though, a lot of people that were signed up for the free course decided not to come. There were only three people in the class and Alex and I were two of them. Ultimately, I decided that I should at least give this a try.

The problem was, it hurt. A lot. (Ok, in fairness, that probably was not the only problem, but it was the first problem) Nonetheless, I did try. After an hour, I had tried to catch maybe five waves (the three of us alternated one at a time - and by catch a wave I mean the instructor had shoved us on our boards onto the wave so all we had to do was try to stand up).

The third person got it right away. I think he stood up on the first wave and rode pretty much every wave he tried. Alex got better and better with each attempt and was getting pretty close.

The second hour was just me and Alex. I spent a lot of it just hanging out in the water, not actually on the board and watched Alex get better and better until he stood up once or twice. Eventually, I decided to try it again and on the very last wave I actually succeeded in standing up and getting a little bit of a ride. We left pretty tired, and with one of us taking more pills for the pain.

I've been thinking about our surfing lessons a fair amount lately, and not just because we have had lots of snow and it is freezing outside. I can't claim that I am surfer, or even that I know how to surf. But, I do know that it takes balance to stand up on the board. I know it takes trust in the unseen force of the moving water that holds you up. And I know that in my case, it took being able and willing to put up with some pain.

If I had been trying to surf through life for the past several months, I would not have been doing very well. My balance has been horrible - I would have fallen left, then right, then flat on my face. My trust has been weak - I've been trying to hold myself up and fighting against letting myself go (suddenly the lyrics "Please don't fight these hands that are holding you, My hands are holding you" from the Tenth Avenue North song By Your Side are going through my head). And I have been unwilling to make changes or do things that cause some discomfort (nothing that would truly cause pain).

So, while I don't really make New Year's resolutions, I do want to become a better surfer this year.

Happy 2010! As we go through this year may the waves be big, the rides long and the sharks small!