MINISTRY AT A GLANCE
Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $3200.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $2057.00 Remaining Need:(+carryover need from last month) $1143.00
Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: 1.) We moved back to Minnesota across country the first of June. It was a massive undertaking. We are officially taking a year long Sabbath to rest, heal and plan for the future.
Top Prayer Requests: 1.) Pray for Kevin, since our feet landed here he has been in a full blown Crohn’s Exacerbation and we have been in the hospital twice, met with two specialists including a surgeon, and still is in excruciating pain trying to figure out a plan of action. It has been an unexpected twist to this adventure and most painful.
Mountain Haven June 2018 Newsletter
Endure, Protest, Lament, Contentment
Trappist monk Thomas Merton lamented the following, “Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.”
Have you ever felt at your worst? Have you ever been at your worst? Have you ever just wanted to give up? Felt like you failed God? The world? The ideals of Christianity? The ideals of good minded, well intentioned “christians”? Have you ever hated the very demented space of your life? Felt rejected and like nothing? If so then you are in good company. The idea that Christ himself is present in the nothingness, brokenness, and ugliness of your very being is tantamount to heresy to many people. Shouldn’t we be cleaned up and changed by grace? Shouldn’t we be sanctified and saying all the right things because the bible says it is so? All the while the foul smelling odor of our sinfulness, our doubts, and our trials absent from the atmosphere, our conversation, our relationships, or our aura.
Sometimes there are trials that bring out your worst, call your brokenness to the surface. We are in such a trial right now. Kevin’s has Crohn’s disease, (not sure why-is it something he ate? Something he did? Is it a curse?- all well meaning questions we, and maybe many others, have asked) and right now it is destroying his body. The disease has taken hold in such a way it appears to not relent, and is causing ailment after ailment, the Crohns has brought on new more painful health problems, 2- ER visits, excruciating pain for him, unrelenting helplessness, and more and more questions rather than answers. All of this began within one day of moving out here for a Sabbath rest after the last 10 years of ministry outreach in Colorado.
This new development in out journey has made me reflect on a new grief cycle. Perhaps too esoteric to some and yet, I hope, accessible to all those who have struggled on any level. The first stage of this cycle I will call , endurance. We all know how we are called to endure, persist or persevere through trials. The definition of this word is to “hold out against, sustain without impairment or yielding” (www.dictionary.com). There have been multiple trials in the last 10 years specifically that have caused us to hold out against the trial, and not be impaired by the trial. I am sure you have had your own share of trials as well. To endure is to continue on, and not yield to the trial or the circumstances related to the trial. It is in this stage that it is easy to weave in and out of faith, but stay present and connected to God and others. It is fairly effortless to be around ourselves at this point. It is effortless for others to be around us, and not feel the weightiness of the situation that leads to despair, or that uncomfortable “not knowing what to say”.
Then comes protest. This is ”a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something” (www.dictionary.com). We have all heard people say something that feels contradictory to the truth. We don’t like it and we wish they could be more positive. As a therapist, I heard many people state over and over things that sounded like self-pity, distortions of the truth, or lack of faith. Their experience of their circumstances seemed bigger than the reality of what we may believe for them, either in the future or even in the now. They seem to be disapproving of their circumstances, strongly objecting to the terrible injustice they are facing or feeling; but you can still hold out hope and try to encourage them. It is easy to see a positive end in sight.
I have watched my husband suffer endlessly with multiple surgeries and ailments that have impacted our lives mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. We have both protested. Whether we got angry, cussed, or questioned why; we stood in protest over the situation or circumstances. We disapproved that such pain and suffering could come from a good God. We read scripture and saw the contradictions in the promises. We turned cynical, got angry, shut down, and distant and even stopped asking God to answer a prayer anymore. We objected to what was going on; and in our objecting, we were messy and regarded as weak, both by ourselves and others. And quite possibly we were weak. This led to burnout, questions of faith, doubt, despair, exhaustion, weakness, and fatigue. Protest is fairly difficult and causes feelings of apprehension and discomfort for both ourselves and those around us.The tension is palpable and to risk being vulnerable is scary.I am sure you have been there as well.
Then there is lament. WWW.Merriam-Webster.com defines lament as, “to mourn aloud, wail, to express sorrow, mourning or regret strongly”. Regret is perhaps the hardest emotion to be around. It shakes the core of all that faith seems to be about, speaking the truth, or believing God’s promises. It is very negative and emotional and causes much discomfort for ourselves and for others. It is sitting in forsakenness and loss; without an answer or an offering of change or hope. The offer of hope can be made, but it will be rejected outright because the lament is like darkness without a penetrable human light. It is the most disconcerting emotional palette to be in the presence of. It is also terrifying because we want it to end, and we hope there is a timeframe for it. Both Kevin and I are lamenting. This makes us testy, irritable, melancholy, sad, impatient, judgmental and hypersensitive. It is uncomfortable for us to hear wailing from one another, or hear what would be called complaining, to live in an endless loss of hope and for there to be no answers. Even writing this newsletter I am compelled to find an answer, offer something helpful, or give comfort. I have none. What I have is lament. Severe mourning, wailing, sorrow, guilt, and ruefulness. It’s ugly to me because I want to be kind, positive, upbeat, adventurous, and fun; but I am not for the most part any of those things right now, and I am pretty sure , neither is Kevin. I think we need the space and the permission to lament properly those mysteries, these things that cause us to believe we are at our worst. That we are the worst. And we don’t know why. We hate that we are in this space because it feeds the lie that we are not enough, we are not worthy, we haven’t tried hard enough, and we are not fun to be around.
The only unequivocal hope in this, is that the space we are in creates room for Christ to indwell us through no efforts, no fancy words, no proper use of scripture, and no correct theological belief system of our own, or the perfect words offered from another Christian of greater faith. The mystery is to embrace weakness, to acknowledge it when it is swallowing you up. Further when you, or others, try to talk yourself out of it, it brings more misery for lack of not being enough, sadness over your failed belief system, or your one word prayers, or your weaknesses. In forsakenness and lamenting it is impossible to see the presence of hope, or to feel another’s love- that is the divine mystery of faith, indwelling occurs, and ultimate belonging happens effortlessly; enigmatically.
I’m hoping to take the pressure off myself to be enough for Kevin, and for others; and I hope he can do the same. I am hoping we all can do this without fear that we will stay stuck here. I hope we can stop trying to figure out exactly how these bills are going to be paid, how to fix this problem he’s having, or asking the question of this timing. To stop trying to explain the mystery of what this crazy journey has been. I have been lamenting- mourning, walking, crying, being… these are behaviors that seem pointless. Often we feel we need to do more; apply for more jobs, pray harder, listen to more sermons, speak more truth, talk to more people; but the truth is we can’t do more. Faith is in the free falling I think and that is utter helplessness…..
And then, contentment. So much more sublime than happiness. It is more of an ease of being in your body, or your mind, or your circumstance. It is perhaps more tentative or permeable than happiness, but it is an acceptance that is not devoid of struggle; yet mysteriously rests in the struggle. www.dictionary.com defines it as “the state of being satisfied, ease of mind.” It’s the ability to explore the whole house of pain, doubt, despair, misery, unknowing and loss and then suddenly you find that you land in the middle of the house on that one really comfortable cushion, you lay back and breath deep and feel at ease in that house. Sure it has its problems, its broken down parts, its cracks, and cobwebs but it feels good to lay back in the midst of that mess and be at ease. We, like many of you, have been wandering this large house of mystery, pain, doubt, regret, sorrow, loss, and weakness and we have to believe there will be a soft place to land in ease, or satisfaction that we are enough; no matter what trials we face. We are content. Our meager “being at our worst” is acceptable and beautiful enough for Christ to indwell.