Aug 31, 2010

Thoughts from earlier this summer.

I don't know about you (my fellow blogging friends), but after I started blogging or even reading blogs, the way I processed life's happenings changed a little. I started coming up with ways to describe what was happening to other people even in the midst of thing I was planning to describe later. Sick, I know.

About a month before our annual vacation (which occurred last week), we started to loose some footing with our finances. During one of the discussions surrounding this issue I was feeling really overwhelmed and a little frightened. As I was trying to process everything all of a sudden this exact thought went through my head, "Financially we are not doing so great. Actually to be more precise, we are drowning." Who does that? Who comes up with these "one-liners" in order to make sense of everything going on? Well, apparently, I do. 

Here's the awesome thing about my thought process, as soon as I thought the word "drowning", the imagry of an article I had read a couple weeks before came washing over me. This article is about what it really looks like when one is drowning. The author is Mario Vittone and he points out that actual drowning looks nothing like what we are so used to seeing on TV. The TV version shows someone splashing and screaming and able to turn attention to themselves. The real version is much scarier, silence and apparent calm. If you were to observe someone in the process of drowning from behind, you might never know that they are actually in grave danger.

The connection I made in my mind and my heart that evening was this, people wouldn't know to look at us that we are struggling everyday to keep our head above water, but we are. My instinct in trouble is to be tight lipped, to smile and act like I don't feel that my world is crumbling around me. When the illustration of drowning was applied to this instinct, I was convicted once again that, as a Christian this is not how I am supposed to behave. I'm supposed to be open about my short-comings and failures so that the glory and honor of any of "my" success is directed to God. When others see me experience hard times*, they will also get to see God work when he provides over and above what we could have asked for.  How will they know the greatness of what God has done if they don't see the depth of where I was? I was reminded of Paul and his openness about who he was before Christ entered his life. He was so open about not earning any of the grace he received. I was encouraged by his letter to Timothy, in it he says:
The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus. Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever. (1 Tim 1:13-16)
Once again I'm striving to be more open about all that God has done for me. It's sort of easier to do in writing, since I don't have to see anyone's face. But I've been trying to push myself to not just smile and say "everything's fine" when people ask. I'm making an effort to be more accurate, to not play out a charade and let others see that God is able to be trusted even in the hard times.

*I recently found two sections of scripture that help in the midst of a hard time as a result of my bad decisions and sinful nature. These are Romans 6 and Lamentations 3. Both are excellent and well worth a read if you have time.


Linda G said...

Livi, I was impressed w/ your openness & also your allowing God to work in a difficult area of life($). It's hard to admit our failing to God let alone publicly. That was encouraging to me :)

Mario Vittone said...

Believe me, Livi, the parallels to real drowning and the metaphoric drowning we all do in life at times was on my mind when I wrote that piece. So many friends and readers have pointed that to me as well. When we are in trouble, we almost never cry for help. Rarely do we make a scene for anyone to see. If anything, we do our best to hide our distress; as if someone will think less of us.

Both kinds of drowning, real and otherwise, are both about panic. The troubling thing is that only in water is there any real danger. The response we show to our friends and families when struggling in other ways is about the fear of how they might react. Isn’t it strange that we think everyone will look down on us for being flawed, but know in our hearts we would never do that to someone else? They are your friends and family for a reason; they are like you and want to be there when you need them. We panic for no reason at all.

Our friends will not think less of us; our families will still love us; and God will still be there. All we have to do is resist the instinct to panic. As soon as the water starts getting too deep or too rough – wave your arms and yell towards the shore for help. It will come, and you’ll notice that thing you were afraid of was never there.