Carry On

A bit of testimony for those of you who are acquainted with trial:

In two thousand nine, I was purposefully tending to my tasks, meeting the day to day challenges sometimes with nothing short of what seemed to me a herculean effort- and managing (for the most part) to do so cheerfully, when “stuff” happened in my personal life that threatened to derail me.

Contrary to popular teachings of church culture, a healthy person rarely forgets, so we must learn to forgive ourselves and others anyway, and expect that past troubles may never be completely finished- in this lifetime.

Therefore, my new stuff piled on top of the old stuff and I began to unravel. The junk threatened to rip out every carefully managed seam. But as my eldest son is fond of reminding me, I am undaunted; and as I am accustomed to doing, I began to cautiously and with as much care, re-ravel.

It seemed a wonder in the beginning that each time I repaired and pieced together a part of my self, a new force (often from a direction I may have never anticipated) popped up, sometimes with true vigor, and made the attempt to rip out my pain-staking work. Oh how I hate being forced to start over…

As a girl I loved to play Monopoly. It was by far my favorite. The game of Life was the only one to run it a close second. A unique aspect of Life was that you could collect children along the way and I thought that the grandest aspect of any game. By the time I was twelve, Baby Island had been my favorite book for awhile, and in fact not even my fifteen- year-old competitors were offered a babysitting gig in my neighborhood unless I had first turned it down. So I spent some time trying to figure a way to incorporate this characteristic play into Monopoly.

These things aside, Monopoly continued to rule from my point of view, and I would do everything short of agreeing to watch my somewhat younger brother set fire to something to entice him into a game. Please, please, please… and to keep him from quitting when we had been hard at it for two days and I owned everything but his skin, I would come up with a million new lending schemes to keep him struggling along.

But though I stood the undisputed Monopoly-loving champion of Branderham Drive, there was something even I despised about the game. I sometimes felt the game creators designed the aspect especially for me. That thing I abhorred in the game, was to be told to return to start. One measly flip of the dice… Go back to the beginning. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. No! No! No! I would reel inside my head, sometimes and probably much to my brother’s chagrin- outside my head.

Maybe I could somehow cheat my way out of this disastrous death to my plans for this turn? After all, going to jail beat the deal hands-down, as first-of-all in any fair society one is there because justice is being served. Certainly not due to circumstances seemingly completely out of one’s control! And there was always the chance one would roll his way out before wasting as much time and distance, and more often than not I seemed to have the fortuitous likelihood of shaking and rattling my way to free parking from there, where our cousins had taught us to keep a five hundred dollar bill waiting for the lucky lander…

But it wasn’t to be, as even then I was insistent on rigorous honesty, feeling certain that the glory of winning at the expense of my integrity was only another way of losing- albeit often carefully veiled. (It is appropriate for me to introduce here the truth that I had no concept of doing anything purely for the Glory of God at this stage of my life- lest we are tempted to give me too much credit for my perspective.)

All this to illustrate, I am putting it mildly when I tell you that this nearly continual necessary re-working of seams has brought me near to exhaustion.

Yet through it all, God Himself did not weary. Many times I confidently told Him that I was sure I couldn’t finish the race- that beyond a doubt I would not finish well, and every time He was there to remind me that I could and I would, but only because I belong to Him and He has my back… And that what I know to be true concerning Him and yet can not see, I should and must trust.

This particular season of accumulating personal loss has not concluded, and maybe it never will… even still I know that I am not to be undone, because I am no longer all there is to me. I may be wounded and I may forever bear the scars of grief but I will not be crushed because God through the death and the life of a part of Himself, his Son, Jesus Christ, has favored me as His own child.

This privileged ownership means also, that today is not all there is, and today will never be all there is… so I will keep mending and reworking those seams by the Grace of God. And I will keep longing for and hoping for and working for tomorrow. And I will continue to pray that by His Grace my brothers and sisters also will retain this very real hope and that it will remain alive and burning in our souls!

Copyright 2017. L. L. Shelton.

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