Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hallelujah Anyway...

           "Kindness toward others and radical kindness
         to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and 
         generous heart, which is the greatest prize of 
         all. Do you want this, or do you want to be 
         right? Well, can I get back to you on that?
                                             -Anne Lamott
                                                                      Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

I have not been able to hold back the tears. Lately, it seems, my tear ducts have been working overtime and they overflow with hope and sadness and feelings. Just as the Spokane River has been near flood stage for months, as the snow in the mountains starts to thaw, my heart seems unable to hold back a flood of emotions.

Raw emotions.

Emotions laced with hope and fear and joy and pain.

When life gets like this, when I get like this, I always turn to Jesus with the same prayer. A one word prayer, which given that I am an extrovert and never say things in a succinct sort of way, is amazing.


That's the prayer. It's quite ironic, really, to say that to God as I know He is more than one step ahead of me. I imagine Him hearing that prayer, looking at my broken heart, and thinking to Himself something along this line...

"Well, good for her. It's about time. I've been waiting for her to stop rushing around long enough to realize that she is a bit of a mess."

Now, just to be clear, I am not all together certain that God would use that kind of language, but I am pretty darn sure that He gets my call for HELP! No matter what tongue or language I say it in.

Now, you see the God I know and Love and serve is
a God that heals broken hearts. He's a God that takes me where I am and helps me move to a better place.
He is a God that never, ever, ever gives up on me, even when I have thrown in the towel and have given up on myself.

Did anything of a huge magnitude happen that broke my heart? Not really.

It was simply one nasty, mean email laced with passive aggression that threw me for a loop. It shocked me. It left me wondering what had I ever done to her that she would throw so much clear bitterness my way.

After reading the email, I did what I almost never do.
I didn't respond right away. Instead, I just let the tears flow and I prayed. I asked God, what would You have me do? And I waited for a reply, a clear direction from Him.

I waited for a whole week and felt vulnerable and sad all week long. Amazingly, I didn't try to bury those feelings. I just sat with them and owned them.
I didn't try to run away from them.

And then one early morning, after my usual prayer time, I picked up Anne Lamott's latest book... 
            Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Anne and I go way back. Not way back  like old friends go back. Not like Linny Wise and I go back. But Anne and I go back like a reader and an author go back. :)

Anne whose words and vulnerability and authentic spirit gave me hope that I, too, with all of my humanness could  be a Christian. Anne, with her dreadlocks and gut-level honesty, who shared her journey to God and Christ...with side trips to Buddah and the Jewish faith. In her writing she introduced me to the kind of faith, the LOVE is at the center-of-it- all kind of faith.

Anne just spoke authentically to my "I grew up a Catholic and met Jesus face-to-face at a Young Life Camp called Malibu" kind-of-self.

You see I had wondered if being a Christian meant that I needed to know God just like everyone else did.

Was there really only one way to know God, I wondered when I was in 9th grade? Did I have to pray using words like Thou and Thee or could I just let it all spill my own words, knowing He would love me anyway? 

What I have come to know and believe with all my heart after all these years since 9th grade may sound radical to some folks and that is okay with me.

It boils down to this... 

* God loves me, no matter what. 
* He is there for me, always
* Even when I am the biggest mess, God does not leave me or   forsake me.

That was good to know and remember when the mean email hit my mailbox.

I cry easily these days and as I read each word, which may or may not have been written with hurt in mind, well... I just lost it.

I felt like my heart had been torn in pieces. I knew some day that I would be able to better understand what was behind this, or what I had unknowingly done to provoke this. 

Yet on that day when I got the email, I felt like a first grader on Valentine's day with a heart on your desk waiting for your friends in class to leave you a Valentine. Reading them one-by- one, and smiling with the kind messages...

I then opened a mean one.

Words are powerful. Words can hurt, no matter what grade you are in.

I prayed and prayed about what to say. I asked God to give me a humble heart. In my return email I apologized if I had done anything to hurt her. Not my intent. With God's help I restrained from arguing back or saying something like "Are you kidding me? Why in the world would you say something so mean, so accusatory? Why would you even suggest that I was not telling the truth?"

After getting the return email from her, laced with
more passive aggression, even though a less hostile 
kind, I just gave up replying. I realized that perhaps what was going on had little to do with me.

All God really wanted me to do was to offer her kindness, especially in the midst of whatever pain she was feeling. And He wanted me to give her radical kindness, especially since she had not offered that to me.

He wanted me to forgive her, just as He had forgiven me.

I felt like saying..."seriously, you want me to do WHAT?
Offer her kindness? Forgive her?"

It was a small to large miracle that I  set my own hurt aside to show her visibly that I cared for her, no matter what she had said to me. I am still working on the forgiveness part.

I love what Anne Lamott says about not forgiving...
   "Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting  
      for the rat to die."
                       - Anne Lamott- Traveling Mercies

And I am doing just that. Little step after little step.
I did something nice and unexpected for her, and every day I am asking God's help in forgiving her.

It isn't easy, but then doing what God wants me to do, and not what I want, usually is never easy (or at least not easy for me).

And after it was all said and done, I picked up Anne's book again and looked at the words in the title...
                         Hallelujah Anyway

Praise God... anyway. Even when you get mean emails.
Praise God... anyway. Even when you have cancer.
Praise God... anyway. Even when you are at your lowest low or highest high.

Even when it is the hardest hard, ever... Praise Him anyway.

Amen and Amen!

1 comment:

GrammaGrits said...

Verse that helped me in a similar situation when an apology wasn't good enough many years ago: "As much as lieth in you, live at peace with all men." Some people will never be at peace, unfortunately. You are such a blessing and inspiration! God bless you many times over.

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