Reflections

A friend of the family was hit by a drunk driver and killed a bit ago. Apparently it was a hit and run, not sure of all the details. I got a wake up call, quite literally, from my dad at 6:30 this morning. The only reason I answered it was because he’s out of the country right now and I don’t have a call back number. But after asking how everybody was, he asked me if I had heard (the family friend lives in Texas) had died. I went from barely conscious to quite awake in no time flat. We become desensitized to these things, but when it’s someone you know, however casually, it’s a shock. And even though I didn’t know Steve very well, he was a close friend of my father. What struck me most was how stunned my father was. He mentioned several times that Steve had called him a couple of times, and he hadn’t had the chance to call him back. His voice was so full of regret, remorse and self-recrimination and I felt sorry for him. Steve was a close friend, yet his busy life got the best of him. Life is so brief, such a whisper in the wind, and we tend to live like it’s all we have. What regrets would Steve have had? That’s hard to know – it’s a moot point in any case. But what regrets do his ex-wife and his two kids now bear? What promises unfulfilled, what words unsaid, or wish were unsaid? And good friends, like my dad, what “what ifs” are still floating around in their minds, weighing them down with guilt?

It’s a reflection for me, especially that regret my dad for not calling back. We’ve become so busy in our society, we forget to have time for each other. “I’ll call later” turns into, “I was so busy, I forgot.” We do ‘things’, these activities, and they seem to take precedence over our relationships with each other. But if we were to put a pause button on our lives and look them over, what lasting moments would we find? How often did we choose things eternal over things temporal? What do we value, and how does that show up in our choices in how we govern and spend our time? For me, just being utterly transparent at the moment, I have a deep hunger for true, strong relationships and community, and I keep knocking my head against the busyness that seems to be a high value right now. It’s so hard when everything around us wants 48 hours out of our 24-hour day. But when someone is suddenly gone from my life, or at the end of my own, whenever that may be, the last thing I want on my heart and mind is regrets about how I just didn’t make enough time for those I love and care about.

This life is short, and so temporary – love hard.

Dragon Skins and Such

I wrote this entry in another blog over a year ago, and I read it and felt like it had a lot of relevance in my life right now. This is what I wrote:

I can get analogies from anything, and I’ve been pondering on this one a long while. Have you ever been scraped so raw emotionally, that everything hurt? I was reading through the Chronicles of Narnia, and I came upon this passage in Voyage of the Dawn Treader that was a very good picture of what I had felt. The character, Eustace, had been turned into a dragon by his greed and piggishness, and after living like that for a while, miserable because he was a dragon, he wondered off and met Aslan, who led him to a large well. Eustace wanted to go in to ease his pain, but the lion told him to undress. So this is the amazing part:

Eustace and Aslan

Eustace and Aslan

 

“I was going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of thing and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
“But just as I was going to put my foot into the water, I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before. Oh, that’s all right I thought. It only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away the third time and got off a third skin. But as soon as I had looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
“Then the lion said, ‘You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat on my back and let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it heart worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff pull off. Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me in the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious. After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me in new clothes…”

So much richness in there, but the thing that got me was the whole scraping off of the dragon skin, the bad, scaly, hardened to life and God skin. We try doing it ourselves, but it doesn’t ever get rid of it. But then we allow God to remove that, and sometimes, it hurts. It hurts like an open wound that someone rubbed sandpaper over, and on the inside where people don’t see that you’re sore and hurting and brush up against you emotionally and cause you more pain. But you know that this is good, and God is bringing you to a good place, washing you clean, as it were. And when it’s all said and done, He gives you new clothes, His clothes, the clothes of righteousness… It hurts, but it’s worth it. It hurts, and I wouldn’t willingly choose that as a “fun”, easy path, but it’s an experience, several experiences, that I value ’cause I’ve come out on the other side and seen what God has done. As an incredibly dynamic pastor said, I see the pruning shears coming and though it’s not a wonderful experience, I hunker down and say, “okay Lord, come on. Prune away what you need to.” And I come out stronger in the end. Don’t dodge the pruning shears, you might get rid of some dragons skins.

Why did that pull at me again? Yes, I’m going through a season where God is pulling off the dragon skin, but I don’t quite feel it, not yet. I’ve been so snowed under, I’ve been fighting just to keep my nose above water. Yet I know that it takes a response from me, a willingness to lie down before God, in order to go through the process. I won’t even pretend – that has been the last thing on my mind lately, but I know in order to move forward, I need to do this. I also know the freedom that comes from removing the dragon skin, so the process is not quite as fearful and actually holds some anticipation.

So, yeah. This is me and what’s going on lately…