Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 113

Wisdom Looks Back to Look Forward

When I write, I often know how I want the piece to begin and end. It’s just those pesky missing chapters or paragraphs in-between that become problematic. So, I look back to previous chapters in order to make progress on the next ones. The chapters yet unwritten.

Today, many of us look back to a life-changing day in the United States eighteen years ago. We know where we were and what we were doing when tragedy struck. We look back and remember.

I will never forget walking through the September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City six years ago and finding a note placed on a memorial wreath by a name etched in concrete. Before this encounter, I had felt a general sadness for those who had fallen; after, it became personal. The note read:

Dear Donald, 

Your children and I miss you more and more each day. Donald (14) plays soccer, golf, and drums in his first year of high school. Lara (14) continues to dance and sing. She was selected to be in the select choir. Connor (11) looks just like you and loves the ocean. He has the same passion for bodyboarding as you did. They speak of you often and wish you were here to see them grow up. As for me, I am very busy running around getting them to all their activities. I miss our life together.

Until we meet again. Love, your wife Jacqueline

On the other side of the letter was another picture with this message:

Every year on your birthday your niece, nephew and children throw a wreath in the ocean in Montauk. This was your favorite place. Everyone misses you.

As tears streamed down my face, remembrance went from “history” to “personal.”

This past week, Wyndham and I looked back through pictures representing memories, as our church celebrated her 40th anniversary. It was inspiring to remember spectacular ways God has changed countless lives. It was also sad, yet inspiring, to look back on the life of a dear friend who passed from this life two weeks ago. Another treasured friend left our house to drive to a place in the mountains—to look back and remember his beloved wife on what would have been their anniversary today. Remembrance is personal.

Though we are living in difficult chapters, we can look back to remember the goodness of our God and his unspeakable blessings in our lives. Though we have shed many tears these last few days simply remembering, they are precious, meaningful tears because they come from love. Remembrance is personal.

Remembrance becomes personal only when names, emotions, and memories are attached to an event we are remembering.

Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are merely historical, general events until they are attached to someone whose love captures our hearts. Whose presence we feel. When this happens, remembrance becomes personal and revolutionizes the way we think and live. I owe the meaning and hope in my life to his example, sacrifice, power, words, and his Spirit that lives in me. If my remembrance of Jesus isn’t personal, then he will be a distant historical event observed in a museum, rather than a current life-changing, joy-producing relationship.

Looking back at Jesus’ life and experiencing his presence makes remembrance personal and helps me look forward. Because of his life, I know the way the story ends—and it’s glorious.

When we look back to look forward, the chapters become clearer. They may look blank and scary now, or contain new plot twists we did not intend or wish to write about—but nonetheless, they are part of our story. May we always remember the ending, and faithfully and courageously write (live) new chapters.

As we remember, may we let Jesus’ love inspire us to look forward to the day when there are no more tears, no more death—only life lived in love in the presence of God and all who have given their lives to him.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;
 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Rev 21:2-5)

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 112

Wisdom Finds the Stones

I just knew God was going to surprise me. I even told Him this as I pulled into the parking place at the ocean. I had not been to the ocean for many months and was eager to see it before the summer ended; so, I decided to would take the better part of a day to go on a spiritual retreat—just God and me. This was the day, thanks to Sam who worked from our house in order to stay with his dad.

I pulled into the parking lot adjacent to a special beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea; special because it’s the beach where Wyndham and I spent many Mondays walking and talking with God and each other. I was hesitant to go to this beach because going to “our” places for the first time alone can be difficult. Though we can no longer walk together, God still walks with me. (He sits with Wyndham.)

No one else was on the beach. This may have been due to red algae continually riding waves to the shore. Thankfully, red algae could not hinder my communion with my God, so I got out of the car. As soon as my feet hit the sand I noticed a perfectly stacked pile of rocks gracing my path. This pile was placed as the centerpiece of the short beach. Stones of remembrance. That’s what I saw.  I smiled, knowing they were there for me, a little hug from God.

Instead of sadness (which certainly happens), I felt joy. I looked at those stones (sans plaster) and remembered the times the Israelites were instructed to build stones of remembrance so that they would not forget the goodness of the Lord. I, too, remembered.

When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster.
  Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
(Deut 27:2-3)

God and I walked, talked, and sang together, hand in hand. At least that’s how it felt. God’s Spirit is like that. God envelops us if we let Him. I sang two songs repeatedly (words changed to match the venue):

I come to the ocean alone. While the sun shines bright and the waves roll.                      And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.                              And, He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.                    And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

 

My God and I walk on the beach together.                                                                                    We walk and talk, as good friends should and do.                                                                        We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter.                                                                    My God and I walk on the sandy shore.

My God and I will go for ‘aye together.                                                                                        We’ll walk and talk, as good friends should and do.                                                                  This earth will pass, and with it common trifles.                                                                         But God and I will go unendingly.

Each time I walked past those stones of remembrance I felt renewed gratitude for the ways God has blessed me. I told Him some of the things I deeply appreciate including the love I feel inside my soul, the purpose I feel for my life, the joy that refreshes my heart, the clear conscience that gives my mind peace, and hope, which springs from the confidence I will never die (physically, yes; but, my body is not me). I felt (feel) thankful for the physical and spiritual family God has given me.

I felt (feel) thankful for the ways Wyndham inspires me. While living in his incapacitated body, he still focuses on God’s goodness to Him. He sees stones of remembrance. Because of this, he stays grateful, cheerful, and courageous.

After some hours, I turned to go back to the car feeling full and refreshed (another thing God does for me). Then, I noticed to my right and to my left many more stacked stones…as if they had multiplied. The more I gave thanks, the more things that there were to remember. 

Truthfully, nothing is more joy-filling, peace-inducing, and spirit-lifting than time alone with God. This comes from: remembering His mighty deeds (made known since the beginning of time); remembering the beauty of His creation: remembering that He is with me in the suffering, the trials, the waiting, and the unknown; and remembering He will not leave me. Truthfully, I  already experience eternity, even now. Eternity has already begun because eternity starts with knowing God (Jn 17:3).

When my physical body one day no longer accompanies my soul, my truest self will be unencumbered, experiencing the unimaginable “wonderful” which God has prepared. Everything good is in God’s presence. That’s the beauty of heaven…relationships of love, beginning with Him, and lasting forever.

When we keep our focus on the unseen (everything in God’s kingdom), we are sure to find all kinds of beauty and encouraging surprises God has prepared for us. Stones of remembrance will multiply.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 111

Wisdom Cares in Many Dimensions

As I glanced down at the pen I was using today I was struck by the two words imprinted on the pen. Care Dimensions. Care Dimensions is the name (and a good description) of Wyndham’s hospice company, but the two words struck me as full of meaning. Caring takes on many dimensions. Wisdom knows this.

I  can clearly see three-dimensional objects, even in movies if I wear special glasses, but God is beyond the third dimension; a dimension far beyond my understanding. When I think and read about God’s “other-dimensional” character it is humbling and amazing to hear that he cares for me.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
  what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
(Ps 8:3-4 emphasis added)

God really does care for us, His beloved creation. He cares for all His creation, including the earth (Ps 65:8-9) and the animals (Ps 36:6-7). When we are like Him, we will strive to care like Him. God cares for more than my existence. I’m comforted that God cares about my situations and emotions.

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. (Ps 31:7 NLT, emphasis added)

I’m also grateful, as Isaiah describes God’s care through His feelings about Israel, that God never stops caring for me.

  “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.
  I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you
(Is 46:3-4 NLT, emphasis added).

I learn it’s also okay to specifically ask for God’s care when I feel I am sinking. At times I ask God to help me to truly feel His care.

  Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful.
  Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!
(Ps 69:15-17 NLT, emphasis added)

God’s care includes speaking the truth and confronting sin. I also learn that God takes it seriously when we don’t believe He cares for us, as it leads to grumbling and disobedience, as told by the Psalmist about Israel (Ps 106:23-27). Sometimes, when things don’t look the way we think they should, we don’t recognize that God is still taking care of us (Is 1:3; Hosea 11:3-4 NLT). On the contrary, when we believe that God cares for us it leads to confidence, fearlessness, and generosity.

Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.
  They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.
(Ps 112:6-9, emphasis added)

I never expected to be so encouraged by a pen. As I hold this pen and think of the many dimensions of God’s care that hold me, I also remember the many ways I have seen Wyndham showing God’s care. For when we truly believe God’s care for us, we can pass His care on to others, because we are secure. We can care in the multi-dimensional ways needed. Wyndham believes God cares for him, thus his care for others has filled many dimensions.

I have seen him strive to care for all Jesus’ disciples, just as God cares for all who are His (Jn 21:15-16). I have seen him treat those who are troubled and whose souls are anguished with great care. I have watched him show extra and tender care to those who are weak or less dignified, while being patient with everyone (1 Cor 12:24-25; 1 Thess 5:14). I have watched him be an example of strength and tenderness caring for and shepherding God’s church (1 Peter 5:2-4), and I have had the privilege of watching him take care of orphans and those in distress (James 1:27). I’m eternally grateful for his imitation of God’s “care dimensions.”

Caring for others isn’t flat. It is nuanced, according to their needs. Our ability to administer care stems from our belief that He truly does care for us according to our needs. We love because He first loved us. We care because He cares for us.

As I hold this pen, I remember that I am held by God’s “care dimensions” for me, and I am forever grateful for Wyndham’s care that touches many dimensions, including strength, tenderness, and patience. May we all expand the borders of our “care dimensions.”

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 110

Wisdom Knows a Thing is Just a Thing

A ring is just a thing. So are many other “things.” My close acquaintance with long term, terminal illness helps me distinguish between the value of physical things and spiritual things of the heart. I placed this wedding ring on Wyndham’s finger nearly 45 years ago. Amazingly, he never lost it through all his fishing, hunting, and sports adventures; however, recently he needed to lose it. His nurse was concerned because it was embedded in a swollen finger which she feared would become quite painful.

So, Melissa and I gathered butter, oil, dental floss, and various other YouTube “tricks of the trade” to try to slide it off. It would not budge, and the attempt to remove it was painful. Unwilling to be conquered by the stuck ring, she called a jewelry store that was located half a mile away to ask if they could help us. The owner was gracious and said he and his daughter would come to the house after he closed his shop. Around dinnertime, this man and his daughter came to the rescue with a ring cutter. At first, he did not think it would be possible but worked mightily while using his instrument to successfully cut the ring. Using pliers, he pulled it apart and slid it off Wyndham’s finger. I thought I might be sad, but instead, I was moved by this man’s graciousness. When I asked him what I owed him his reply was, “I did not come here to do business, I came because someone needed help.” I cried and gave him a big hug.

I was reminded of the beauty and grace in simple acts of kindness and determined to pay it forward. I didn’t feel sad, because the removal of the ring didn’t change anything—except the possibility of a soon-to-be-damaged finger. I remember words that Wyndham often said when something broke or was lost…” It’s just a thing.” Or, when we were met with an unexpected expense that we felt we couldn’t afford…” It’s just money.” And he meant it. A thing is just a thing. A thing has no lasting value.

Wisdom knows that physical things don’t last. Wisdom stores treasures in heaven.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)

This past week several golden treasures came to visit— Two Sams and two Iiames. Friendships like these are not things, but true treasures. I often lay in bed at night and think of the treasures I possess. They are all relational.  Spiritual relationships, with God and each other, are what will last. What “thing” will last other than our relationship with God and with His sons and daughters (our brothers and sisters)? Nothing can take these away. Even when our physical bodies leave, for Christians, love, and relationships are eternal. And one day, we will also have new bodies. Now, that’s something to smile about. Of course, I grieve and cry many tears for aspects of the relationship I temporarily miss, but I find when I set my heart on things eternal my mood changes.

And, Wyndham’s wedding ring has a new home on our mantel that seems a fitting place. Every time I see it I think about what lasts, as well as the kind store owner who came because someone needed help.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 109

Wisdom Never Walks Alone

I thought it would be a simple Nana/grandson fishing adventure. (That sentence, in itself, was amazing to write because I do not like fishing, so any fishing trip for me is not simple.) However, since Caleb was staying with us overnight while his parents were out of town and his sisters were elsewhere, I thought it would be fun to go to the nearby reservoir with him so he could fish. A wooded, scenic path leads to this reservoir—a sparkling lake where fish are known to live. We walked the path to a place that looked “fishy” to us, but they weren’t biting. He offered to let me throw some casts. I did, and promptly lost his lure when it hooked something big in the water which was not a fish. Line snapped. Fishing trip over.

It was a fun time with Caleb, though I was not prepared for a flood of emotions that filled me as we first entered the entrance to the path leading to the reservoir. As I first set foot on the path my eyes instinctively filled with tears. The emotions surprised me until it hit me that the last time I walked this path was when I was walking hand in hand with Wyndham. This was an oft-walked path for us; one where we would walk and pray. We would climb out on the rocks, often bringing our dogs, first Jordan and then Denver, after Jordan was gone. We would offer them endless fun retrieving tennis balls we would throw into the water. Many prayers were said, and memories made. Thus, the welling of emotions makes sense. Caleb was kind and understanding as I explained my sadness.

Since that day last week, I have spent some time meditating on the presence of God in my life. I am, in fact, never walking alone. God is so completely relational that somehow, he is one God who is also one with Jesus and the Spirit. I have spent hours contemplating the Trinity and have come away with two concrete thoughts: The nature of God is a dimension beyond human understanding, so I might as well just accept that I will never “figure it out,” but the Trinity shows us perfect relational love and unity. Since God is relational, and I am created in his image–I am relational, and his Spirit really does live in me, as it does every Christian. I am never alone. For real. God’s Spirit was always walking with us when we did walk together, and the Spirit never left. God’s Spirit is still with Wyndham and is still with me. Though I can’t walk and talk hand-in-hand with Wyndham anymore I will never walk alone, and neither will he.

Today, I felt the need to retrace my steps to walk and pray, and I felt a certain sense of peace that passes human understanding. Though I’d give anything to walk the path with him again, the solo adventures I am now more accustomed to consistently reassure me that the presence of God’s Spirit continually envelops me, walking with me because of its residence in my soul. Because of this, love always accompanies me. This is an amazing reality. I can sing this song by Austris A. Whithol:

My God and I go in the field together; We walk and talk as good friends should and do;

We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter; My God and I walk through the meadow’s hue…

My God and I will go for aye together; We’ll walk and talk just as good friends should and do; This earth will pass, and with it common trifles, But God and I will go unendingly.

Wisdom never walks alone. Wisdom was “walking with God” at the creation of the world. Wisdom can be an intimate friend.

  The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; (Prov 3:19 ESV)

  Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend,… (Prov 7:4 ESV)

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 108

Wisdom Owns It

I remember as a child taking a job feeding my neighbors dogs for a few weeks while the neighbors were out of town. I probably remember this because they had me feed them bologna sandwiches for treats. I dutifully did the job, but it was a job. They were not my dogs. And they slobbered. A lot.  Then, when I was nine years old I got my own dog. I was thrilled to be the owner of a dog. This was different than feeding my neighbor’s dog. I named my dog. I played with my dog. I talked to my dog. He slept on the foot of my bed. I even wrote a poem about my dog. He was mine. I owned him

So it is with our spiritual life. If we don’t truly own it, it will feel more like a joyless job, often feeling like a mere routine? We certainly won’t thrill in it, write a poem about it, or delight in talking to God.

So what might keep us from owning our spiritual life? Routine? Neglect? Following rules rather than personal convictions? Pleasing people more than pleasing God? Having a “back door” for a possible exit? Perhaps these reasons point to our need to “work out our own salvation…” Sunday, Wyndham relayed a message about owning one’s spiritual life.

Sunday was a glorious day. Our teenage grandson made the decision to follow Jesus and was baptized into Christ. We now have a granddaughter/sister and a grandson/brother. Caleb wanted to be baptized in our hot tub in the back yard so that his Papa could be part of the wonderful occasion. We realized the day before that Sunday was also Wyndham’s 47th spiritual birthday. He was baptized on June 2, 1972. It felt like a kiss from God to share this date.

Since Wyndham cannot speak clearly or loudly enough to share, he carefully expressed to me what he wished for me to share with Caleb on his behalf. Not surprisingly, the first scripture he wanted to share was one that has stayed close to his heart and guided his character since that day in June, 47 years ago.

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

He asked Caleb to strive for this love and to keep a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.

He then asked me to read 2 Timothy 4:6-8

 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

It was hard to read this scripture through my tears because it feels so real and relevant. Wyndham has fought the good fight and is still fighting, perhaps in the most difficult way yet. Time for departure is nearer than we wish. He is, as described in a previous post, running “heartbreak hill.” Heartbreak hill is a long, hard stretch up a hill near the end of the Boston Marathon route. However, eternal life with God…. beyond description is waiting at the finish line. Now that’s someone and something to run to!

Wyndham asked me to tell Caleb, “It’s your race now!”

True words.

We must all own the race marked out for us. No one can run it for us. If we don’t own it, we won’t run it. At least not for long. And if we don’t own it, we will have no joy attempting the run.

Sometimes it takes times of reflection and prayer to internalize the true ownership of our race. Then, and only then can we keep running despite injury, fatigue, or course detours. The beautiful thing is that when we take ownership of our race we are carried along by loving arms of support and the breath of refreshment from he who runs alongside us, gives us refreshment, and picks us up when we fall. It’s my race. It’s your race. May we own it and run it wholeheartedly, never taking our eyes of the one who runs with us.

  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
(Hebrews 12:1-2)

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 107

Wisdom Transfers

Our son, Sam, just entered the smartphone world. He resisted for a long time, much to his entire family’s displeasure. He could not receive our family “group texts” or pictures. It was time to switch. Meanwhile, Wyndham’s phone sat on the windowsill. For part of Sam’s birthday gift, I suggested that he take Wyndham’s phone, keep it on our plan and pay the accompanying monthly charges. This seemed like a good idea, and it was. However, Sam would need a new number, which meant Wyndham’s number would disappear. Forever.  All I needed to do to make this change was to go online to my carrier and change the number. It would take less than five minutes to complete the task, but it actually took me three weeks to accomplish. The physical process was simple. The emotional one, I came to realize, was not so simple.

I can not begin to count the number of hours of conversations that took place between Wyndham and me on that phone. It served as a connector,  advisor, timing adjuster, grocery list reminder, expression of love and affection sender, as well as a picture sender to show each other a grandchild’s milestone or a big fish. As we often traveled in the car together, Wyndham and I would be on our phones in order to keep up with many responsibilities. I often reminded him that the physical phenomenon of sounds waves, cell towers, and various wondrous laws of physics would carry his voice—the loud volume of his voice was not needed to reach the person on the receiving end. I found it futile to attempt long conversations on my phone while he was on the line. His voice was too loud. However, I overheard so much encouragement given, so much counsel given…replete with inquiries to the tackle shop in Gloucester to find out if the stripers were biting. His phone made many calls to our kids, grandkids, and friends… sharing victories and defeats, joys and sorrows.

Wyndham hasn’t been able to use his phone for many months. His hands can’t hold it, and his voice is no longer strong enough to make conversation. It makes no sense for us to pay a monthly fee for a windowsill trinket. So, tonight I made the quick switch to change the phone number and officially transferred the phone from Wyndham to Sam. It seems such a simple and reasonable process, but somehow the reality didn’t feel that way. While his family was over for dinner celebrating Emery’s birthday. I handed Sam the phone, got up to put away the dishes from the dishwasher, and then unexpectedly felt the tears flow. Sam hugged me, understanding.

Funny thing though. Because of all the conversations, all the encouragement, all the instructions, all the love, all the laughter….I am confident the same sort of conversations will continue to happen on that phone. Conversations of encouragement, of love, of concern, of counsel, of laughter. I am quite sure, however, there will be no calls to the tackle shop, though perhaps there may be one or two to a golf course to set a tee time.

It’s actually okay—no, it’s more than okay—because this is what is supposed to happen.  Wisdom transfers. In fact, wisdom isn’t really wisdom if it is just stored in our heads. It’s simply knowledge then. Wisdom transfers knowledge into a heart of faith and applies it to and with another person. Wisdom must be transferred. Person to person. Generation to generation.

  And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Tim. 2:2)


  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.
  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
(2 Cor. 3:2-3)


  Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
  Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God?
  You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
(Psalm 71:18-20 NLT)
 

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. (Psalm 89:1)

So, never forget that all you do and say transfers to someone watching and listening. May the love of God in our hearts transfer to all we have the opportunity to encounter. God has, in a sense, transferred his number to us to extend to the world. We must simply make the calls.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 106

Wisdom for Today

So, I found out from several of you looking for Wednesday’s blog that Wednesday (today) is not actually Tuesday, as I originally thought it was. My, how life can get off track. Since our church met in the pouring rain in a park an hour away on Sunday, I knew I could not be away from Wyndham for such a long time—so did not make it to church. I have been to church on every Sunday of my life that I can remember unless I, or a family member was sick. We even went to church in a little town in Tifton, Georgia, the morning after we married! Thus, when I missed church Sunday my whole calendar went down the tubes. I should not be surprised. I thought Monday was Friday, so don’t quite know how I thought that today was Tuesday. Go figure. The year I turned 57 (too many years ago) I had thought I was 57 for the entire previous year. For real. I was encouraged that I did not have to grow older when I actually did turn 57. At my age, I usually only remember the birthdays by 5’s. Since I turned 65 this year, I’m good, though don’t ask me how old I will be next year; however, since it will be the same number twice I should be okay.  At this point in today’s self-deception, I will certainly avoid stepping on the scales.

The wisdom I glean from all of this is perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of wisdom I am currently learning from Wyndham and from his illness. No matter what day the calendar says, today is the day I have. That’s it. So, what I do with today is most important. For Wyndham, there is not much the day brings for excitement other than loving and being loved. But really, what else matters? That, dear friends, is a full and rich day!  (Oh, and he does like his chocolate croissant in the morning.)

Really, nothing is more important than loving God and loving others today.

  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
  This is the first and greatest commandment.
  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40)

In light of these thoughts, I ask myself these questions. Today.

  • Am I loved by God and am I loving him back, today? And, am I loving others, today?
  • I am learning the value of meditative prayer and the stillness needed to come into God’s presence, to truly commune and to listen to the Spirit’s prompts, today?
  • I am learning that today’s troubles are enough on their own? I don’t need to borrow yesterday’s or tomorrow’s troubles. With God, I can handle whatever troubles come, today.
  • I am learning that focusing on the things I am grateful for shapes my attitude, today?
  • I am learning that perfect love truly does cast out fear, today?
  • I am learning that true honesty, vulnerability, and speaking the truth in love brings freedom to my soul and depth in relationships? And that my thoughts and feelings do have value, today?
  • I am learning to drink in the beauty, sounds, and smells of nature, today?
  • I am learning to be more generous, today?

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

Well yes, I think I shall choose to rejoice and be glad in today.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 105

Wisdom and Vulnerability

Memories fill my head and heart as I look across my room and smile, as we enjoy the pleasure of the company of a dear friend. It’s a friendship built over many years of fighting battles together, talking about everything, praying much, sharing joys and laughter, and sharing sorrows and tears. This friend knows pretty much everything about each of us, as do we know him. I reminisce about other dear friends who visited today. Friends who are deeply embedded in our lives. Our kids grew up together and remain steadfast friends, as do we. What a privilege to be deeply involved in one anothers’ lives.

As I attempt to gather my thoughts for a blog, I am struck by the wisdom which comes from vulnerability in relationships. Jesus called his disciples his friends because he held nothing back from them (John 15:15).  God has always intended us to grow through relationships. We cannot practice our relationship with God without true relationships with others. The very nature of God is relational, as revealed by the unity of the three-in-one Father, Son, and Spirit.

Gordon helped both Wyndham and me learn vulnerability about 30 years ago when he and Theresa became our dear friends. Wyndham learned quickly, while I didn’t even understand what vulnerability looked like. You see, I had tried so hard to “do the right thing” throughout my life that I didn’t even know what I felt. What did feelings have to do with anything, anyway? I thought to focus on or express my feelings would be selfish. Also, I didn’t want to mess up, as I didn’t feel that was okay. This way of thinking made me unrelatable, always trying to measure up to earn my worth from God or others. While doing the right thing is a good thing, it’s incomplete and can become the wrong thing when vulnerability is absent. God wants our hearts, no matter how messy. He desires mercy over sacrifice. We can only learn this in the context of relationships.

As I prayed to understand what it meant to be vulnerable, I realized there were specific times in my life when I actually had shared my thoughts and feelings…and it did not go well. I vividly remember as a preteen telling my dad, when I was asked to clean my plate, that the inside gooey part of the tomatoes (that part was left on my plate) made me feel sick to eat. I was very strongly punished for “talking back.” I decided from that day on I would never “talk back,” and that it would be better to gag over the gooey inside of tomatoes or anything else and “stuff” whatever I felt rather than be honest and face consequences. (Everyone has bad days, even wonderful, godly parents.) As an adult, a few significant times when I was honest also did not turn out well, coming back down on my head with a bang. Though these may be small things, they were enough to cause me to zip my heart and my lips. While some people would “fight,” I would shut down. This was not good.

Gordon (and Theresa) were deeply vulnerable in our friendship with them. He showed me how to be vulnerable by doing so. Wyndham made it safe for me to be vulnerable, and God kept putting me in situations where I could either speak up and “swim” or “be silent” and drown. The progress did not come easily. Vulnerability, to me, was like learning a foreign language. I often felt I would rather go throw up than say what I felt, especially if I perceived a person as an authority figure. Often, I had stuffed feelings so deeply I would only come to know what I felt when I prayed, pouring out my heart to God. If I felt something with Wyndham I would often not know how to express what it was, but as soon as we would pray together it would come gushing out, accompanied with tears. I believe this came easiest in prayer because of finally trusting that God wants to know me—in all my ugliness, fears, and uncertainty. I would also tell everyone I talked to that I was trying to learn to be vulnerable, and after conversations asked them how I was doing. I begged God to make this weakness a strength–to be honest and courageous and not leave “elephants in the living room,” but speak the truth in love.

So, as I reflect on these friendships, important relationships in my community, I am ever so grateful for the depth and freedom that comes from vulnerability. I am grateful  Gordon demonstrated this Christ-like quality, and that God helped me learn this foreign language. I am deeply thankful for Wyndham’s wisdom, encouragement, example, and providing me a safe place to be completely vulnerable. I am grateful he has always encouraged me to practice honesty and vulnerability all my relationships. It has made a huge difference in my spiritual growth. I am inspired by his vulnerability, as truly everything in his life now requires intense vulnerability. He has trained for this for years, through the security he knows in God.

It is never to late to learn the language of vulnerability or even to take refresher courses. However, we must be truly engaged in a spiritual community to grow in this area. Wisdom learns vulnerability.

9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)