From: Dale Pratt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: a friend
Sent: Wed, January 12, 2011 11:35:26 AM
Subject: Re: Happy Thursday
So, as I’m rehashing (as I always do) the blur of conversations over the last week and our recent faith discussions, I’m concluding there’s some things I need to say to you:
I want to be sure you understand that I’m not dismissing the significance of that event and its impact on your life, as well as your family. Sometimes, in an effort to add humor to a discussion and ease the discomfort, my sense of humor, loaded with excess sarcasm, may lend itself to the impression that such matters are just trivial object lessons in the path of life. That’s not the case – an inclination to dismiss.
Those events in many ways are object lessons, valuable for our growth and development, but they are by no means trivial.
We all have myriad daily moments which subtly but certainly serve to develop our behavior patterns and routines and perspectives and faith applications. In addition to those, though, God seems to add a mix a heavy ingredients (whether by direct cause or passive allowance, a theological quagmire we’ll avoid for this conversation) – icons in our experiences which become major shocks to our systems, causing wild changes in direction, perspective, attitude, physical capability, and all of that is directed at our faith application.
As we look back over our life stories, these icons are the defining elements of the landscape, both circumstantially and emotionally. In the future, we should certainly expect more of those, but not spend unbalanced energy worrying about them or preparing defenses against them. They will come. We should be prudent but not obsessive.
For you, of course, this event is a defining, iconic moment, added to a few others in your life.
It is not trivial, and not a ploy in God’s game of life for you to invoke some simple, object lesson that can be easily defined or articulated. God doesn’t fit well into platitudes. This is not trite or playful, and the message is not “stop whining!”
What he is doing now, in you, through this, cannot be discerned clearly in the midst of the experience, if ever – though I’m sure you’ll have better perspective as your distance from it grows.
You will gradually assimilate this tragic, defining experience into your life, taking years potentially to get over the bad taste left behind and the indigestion it brings so violently.
It will, even more than it has already, become part of you completely – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There are no aspects of it which will be entirely pleasant, and there are none that should be avoided. In other words, you should not isolate part of the experience and its potential impact on you into some desolate corner of your soul and bind it to evade its influence. Not all today, but eventually, all of it must be allowed to roam freely among your spaces. You have to become friends with it. You have to examine it from every vantage point, appreciate its subtle bouquet, break it down into small, applicable pieces and rehearse the responses it evokes from within you, then break those down and examine those. Thankfully, not all of that requires conscious effort, but all of it is required.
This is the essence of trust. Naked and not ashamed. Not afraid. Not destroyed. Not debilitated. Not diminished, but enhanced.
That does not require you to determine whether, much less to say that, God caused such calamity, but it does require you to have the trust and confidence that he’s redeeming it and making it valuable in you.
That’s the point. That’s why this is perfect.
From him to whom much is given, much is required.
The evidence of trust is not known by the life without trouble. The evidence and practice of trust is known in the life lived abundantly – in all dimensions of the human experience: heights of joy and depths of sorrow. In such territory, trust is developed, challenged, proven, and found legitimate.
I don’t want you to ever think I’m dismissing your concerns. I can’t do it, though I’ll try. I can’t know every element and detail, as you do, but I’m with you.