My husband, Bill, gave our 17 year old son his main Christmas present early this year. Alex had to help my husband pick it out- it was a bunch of complex computer parts. They're building another computer. Alex knows the ins and outs of a computer like an internist knows the internal organs of the human body.
I, on the other hand, know nothing about how computers work, how to even down load photos. I can't even say "it's all Greek to me" because I actually took Koine (Biblical) Greek in college, and did well with it. But computer parts, computer "anything"- I do not understand at all. I have to get my son to help me with almost every thing I do on my computer- except for the writing. The words, the many words here, are always all mine. (My husband, my son and my best friend Mu wonder where I get all these words from, and I tell them, "Oh, the world within me. You have no idea!")
Sometimes when Bill and Alex are discussing computer components they're buying, I'll feign expertise in the matter and interrupt their conversation with "Yea, I know. My ram is all filled with j.pegs and I have to download my widget to maximize the hard drive so that the mega pixels and the motherboard get along with the peripherals and then the CPU won't be so floppy." Alex will look at me with one eyebrow raised and sigh, "Mom, you're not funny" as though I have insulted the computer world with my gross ignorance and misuse of the technical language.
I have no interest in learning anything about computer components. I just want to turn on my lap top and press the keys and start going. When I run into a problem, I'll yell for my son. He'll come up from his lair, downstairs, and come over to where I'm working. He'll start to tell me all these technical things. I'll put my hands over my ears and close my eyes like a petulant child and yell out, "I'm not listening! I'm not listening!" I am so right brained that if any left brain info gets into my head it may confuse me. I already have memory problems and hearing problems- I don't want my brain to get mixed up anymore than what it is.
But problems, crises and life's challenges, I understand. Not that I understand why they occur, or how they fit into God's plan exactly, or why they have to be so vicious sometimes, but just that they occur.
Last night at the Women's LIFE Workshop I teach at church, our leadership team gathered the women into groups at the mid point ministry time. We broke up into three groups where women could choose what their experience, this Christmas season, was about: Group A was having an Awesome time, and they should celebrate and whoop it up, I told them. Group B was having a Bit of a Battle this Christmas, their stress levels were high, and they needed to talk about it- whether its problems with relatives, stress on the job, trying to deal with a blended family.
Then there was group C. "You're in a crisis," I told them. "There's no other way to describe what you're dealing with. It could be hospitalization of a loved one, the unemployment line you're standing in, or the excruciating sudden loneliness you're facing." We had a lot of women in Group B, some women in Group A who were laughing together, and four women who came over to group C. They could barely talk about what they were going through. One woman said to me, as she began to share, "Now, I know this won't shock you. I can tell you know how it is, how it really is." And she began to share.
I may not understand a thing about computers but I do know about life's challenges. I don't experientially know about every single life problem there is, but I do know that they exist, and that you have no idea how bad it is, sometimes, for some people. What they carry, what they're going through- it can drop your heart into the ground.
I looked at these women in group C and felt such awe and respect for them. How could one bear up under such trials, such circumstances of crisis and constant battle? My first reaction when I hear of such crisis is to gather the troops and pray. Pray! Then my next reaction, after listening to them let it all out, is to hold their hand tightly.
I know they're on a long hard journey. Sometimes I feel a bit mad at God that He would take them on such a hard journey. Take them, or "allow them" - whatever the word, whatever the plan is (Is God causing it? Is He allowing it? Is He ready to mightily intervene?), I'm not happy with the rough terrain that God thinks we can traverse.
But every time I have ever gripped a woman's hand in silent agreement that life is hard and that our faith is about to be given the chance to arise, I remember what I have traveled through. I think of the pockets of despair, the places I have lived (not wanting to remember some of the places), the loneliness, the medical crises, the financial instability and the failures. Failures, as in it didn't work out. Failures as in, you don't look so good right now. But my failures and crises of the past connect me to the women more so than my past seasons of success do.
"...God designed you for the journey of your life...(but)...God designs you by the journey as well" writes Robert A. Schuller in his new book, Walking in Your Own Shoes.
Designed and shaped by what I go through, and prepared for what I will go through- that's all God's doing. My only doing is to keep watch over my internal core temperature, my heart. I learned about this term just the other night when my son's newly built computer was screeching this high pitched beeping sound over and over.
"The internal core temperature is rising, "my husband said to Alex, as they bent their heads over the computer to diagnose what should be done.
Now I would not know what should be done for that computer, just as I don't know what should be done for each person I come into contact with who has a crisis or a big problem to deal with. I know little about the mysterious sovereign plan of God. I only know that He says He will work things together for good.
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
Maybe one thing He is doing to work it all together, to weave the pain into the gain, is to utilize everything- every snare and ever tear, every time we were beat up or fed up or gave up- for His purpose. Purpose is almost too big of a word for me to tackle. I just know that it's bigger and higher than what my mind can get around.
"By tomorrow, the life you are living today is going to be part of your past. It is going to be part of that ever-increasing reservoir of experiences and knowledge you will draw on when you step into the future."
How painful our past is varies with each person. But we all have a future. We all have something profoundly amazing that we're about to step into. And that's something that I do understand- that today and tomorrow are before me. The past is not forgotten, but it is behind me. It's behind me as a reservoir that I can draw upon- draw upon not only the good, but more so, the painful trials, that no matter how debilitating, could not hold me back from... this new day.
**Want to share which Group you are in this Christmas? Leave a comment- and let's share. Group A, B, or C?