Pain Redemeed

Life fascinates me. It's this treacherously cruel world highlighted with too-good-to-be-true events. We find ourselves struggling to breath through the agony only to find ourselves on fast forward to a new year and suddenly we're in a moment of grand celebration.

See that photograph? He was dying and the doctors couldn't figure it out until it was almost too late.  She lost her two best friends in one year because life took a tragic turn and sent them all on separate journeys. He got fired from a company where he worked overtime to be a good employee simply because they where downsizing.

See that photograph? He graduated high school at sixteen because he is that brilliant and determined. She was promoted to a directorship at a multi-million dollar organization before the age of 25 because sometimes crazy stuff happens. He found his life dream before finishing high school and has made more progress towards achieving it than some people will make in their entire lifetime.

How? Why? And can't we just have the good without the bad? I don't think so. That would be like eating chocolate minus the bitter coca bean and then all we would have is sugar mixed with fat and no one would call that chocolate.

"What's the point of having blood with no veins?
What's the point of having love with no pain?"

I would never condone all the evil in the world as secretly good. I would say in the words of Jonathan Brush that, "All the pain will be redeemed." I would say that somehow the bitter of life seems to brighten the sweetness that is mixed in. I would say it is a curious thing to think that in the agony of the cross, redemption for all mankind was born.  Perhaps, somehow, that truth is reflected in the debilitating pain of our lives that so harmoniously mingles itself into the beautiful melody of our reality.


How to Live with Unmet Expectations

I never yell. I was yelling. I hated to cry. I was sobbing. I felt so hurt and angry. I felt trapped by circumstances. I wanted my mom to step in with some incredibly supportive sentiments and instead she had some concerns to share. I felt so alone. It wasn't my mom or I's best moment. My first year at college coupled with constantly working plus dealing with an awkward guy relationship were taking its toll. Two years earlier though, I probably would have given a lot to be in that tense moment.

I walked around the corner and I knew. I knew that when the nurse looked up at me one shake of his head would be the answer to whether my whole world had just changed in one moment. "She's dead," I thought. In a matter of seconds, the long-term illness my mother was diagnosed with eight years earlier had rendered her deaf and blind. Did it have to take her life too? He looked up and started talking about her pulse. "She's not dead," I realized. Relief hit me but not a satisfying relief. It was more like the crack of a whip that told you the race was still going - the long days filled with worry were still stretching out in front of you. Her vision and hearing came back but it would be months before my mother came back.

Perspective and expectations can wage an ugly war. I've never forgotten the years before we found a new doctor. The years where my mother almost died six times before my eighteenth birthday. Despite living with an usual awareness of the nearness of death, I still had expectations. When she began to recover, I was growing up and moving on. I had expectations of the advice she would (and wouldn't) give. Sometimes expectations need to be tamed by perspective.

Every expectation feels reasonable to the person who has it. Lots of expectations are legitimate. Not all expectations are realistic. How do we live in a world of unmet expectations? Grace.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? 
Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 
You desire but do not have." 
James 4:1-2

Grace is the perspective that tames the war of expectations. Humility is the perspective that quiets the battle of expectations. I don't know what your unmet expectations are. Maybe your father left you feeling perpetually "not quite good enough". Maybe your friends where never really "that into you" like you had hoped. Maybe that guy just "won't commit" despite what you know you deserve. I've been there. I still like to hangout there more often than I'd like to admit. Can we join hands on a journey though, to dropping expectations in an effort to live free? Free from the war of our own desires. Free to love unconditionally. Free to let others be themselves without it dictating who we are.

My mother and I aren't perfect. Our relationship isn't perfect. It's better though. Better because I said I was sorry and she was far more understanding about everything than I originally gave her credit for. It's better because we've adjusted our expectations. It will continue to get better because despite the perspective I've always had that life is short, I am now learning that the most influential perspective is a grace filled one.


How to "Get the Guy"

I was curious to hear their conversation. We were women of all ages and the discussion was on guys and relationships. The youngest of us was in our twenties and the eldest in her fifties. As I listened, they covered the usual bases and swapped guy tales when out of the blue one of them looked right at me and said, "Now you, Moriah, need to be careful that you don't pass a good guy by." I was taken back a bit. She did not know me that well. She knew I had standards. She knew I did not date much but where was this coming from?


"He is your perfect opportunity to settle," my friend was shooting straight with me that night. I knew she was right. Mr. Charming had made an appearance with some vague gestures of interest. I was intrigued. It was a classic case of liking the cute guy but knowing he wasn't good for you.


Have standards but not too many standards. Give him a chance but not too much of a chance. Be the nice girl but not too nice. Don't play hard to get but don't play cheap. . . the rules never end and if they do the opinions of others certainly don't. How in the world is a girl to navigate the endless advice? We want to know what out of it all is actually good advice. Scratch that, we really only have time to try and remember the best advice. Maybe in the end though we do not need more advice on how to "get the guy".

I've spent far too much time worrying about how to make the perfect impression on this or that guy who didn't even notice there was an impression he was supposed to be picking up on. I've seen far too many girls completely morph into different creatures just to be with a guy who said they were pretty and that he wanted to be with them. Maybe sometimes we get the whole thing wrong. We worry and we plan and in the meantime, we completely forget that life is a beautiful thing that is meant to be lived. We forget that God doesn't need our help to make His dreams for us come true. We forget that life is so much bigger than whether or not our relationship status is accurately reflected in one of Facebook's eleven options. We forget that life isn't about finding the perfect combination of rules that will set us on the path to success. Life is about living and the only real living that ever gets done is when each moment is seen as a gift from God to be given back to Him.

Your life isn't about that guy or following Aunt Whoever's advice to get that guy. Your life is about Jesus.

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