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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
I spent time this past weekend with someone who is baffled and heart broken over her recent behavior. She's up to her chin in the journey to healing and so ready to see a new reflection of herself in the mirror.
All humans are faced with moments when we want to do better. Act better. Be better. This brings to mind a profound scene in the novel THE WILD THINGS, adapted from the illustrated children's book WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE; recently made into a movie.
Copyright 2009 Dave Eggers
Max (the boy in the wolf suit), struggles to understand why he continues to "ruin everything." He approaches Alexander, a friend he'd hurt when he lost control of his temper.
"You want me to move?' Alexander whispered.
"No," Max said. He looked closely at Alexander, realizing at last that they were more alike than different. Their size, their fur--they were versions of the same undersized and over-trying creatures. He thought about putting his hand on Alexander's back, but when he raised his arm, Alexander flinched. There was a raw wound there, the fur missing and the skin red and bruised.
"Did I do that? Max said.
Max stared at the wound for a moment, then knelt down next to Alexander.
"Does it hurt?" Max asked, hoping the answer was no.
"A little, yeah." Alexander said, wincing.
Max took the tail of his wolf suit in his hand and licked it, using it to clean the wound.
Alexander smiled. "That's better. Thanks."
"I have to leave and go somewhere else now."
"Where?" Alexander asked.
"Anywhere. I ruin every place I go. I ruined this place, too. I... I didn't want Douglas's arm to . . . to get..."
Max couldn't say it.
"You didn't rip it off," Alexander said. "Carol did."
"But I wanted a fort. And I told Carol the sun would die. And I wanted secret doors . . ."
Alexander looked at Max like he was mad. "You really think you wrecked this island? You think you're that powerful? That you're the reason that everyone is happy or sad?
Max wanted to say No, but this is exactly what he was thinking. "But I hit you. I hit you a hundred times."
"Well, you did do that. No doubt about it."
Max finished cleaning the wound and dropped his tail. "That's why I need to leave. I don't want to ever do anything like that again."
"But you still might." Alexander said.
"But I don't want to."
"But you still might. Wherever you go."
Max wasn't sure if he was making himself clear.
"But I don't want to," he said.
Alexander barely paused. Instead, he smiled, as if Max was being particularly dense.
"But you still might."
They sat in the silence for a while, watching the rest of the beasts sleeping. In their slumber, the giant creatures were infant-like, almost cute, and at the same time pathetic, tragic, burdened by all they carried with them, far more than Max or Alexander could know. [end of excerpt]
I read this book with Zach, my eleven-year-old son. Neither of us wanted the story to end. Right here, on the pages of a book written for children, is an illustration of love, acceptance of a painful truth, and forgiveness. The creatures in the story are no doubt dysfunctional, but they are . . . family.
What about this excerpt moved you or made you feel uncomfortable? Can you think of something about yourself you want to change, to no avail? Perhaps a loved one has relapsed into an addiction a hundred times.
"God in heaven, let, I pray, Your strength manifest in our weaknesses. Only you have the power to change us from the inside out. Direct our steps and grant us the courage to move out of destructive patterns." In Jeus' name, Amen
*Disclaimer to any women who is in an abusive relationshiop: This story is not meant to imply that fresh resolve and apologies are enough. If you are in danger, it's important to get to a safe place. There are many programs available. I know personally, a family who has healed from domestic violence, and are together to this day. Regardless of our circumstances, human beings do not have the power to rob one another of the redeeming love of God.
Published on Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 4:55 PM CDT
I planned on blogging after I'd spent some time with God. I was in the God-zone when the phone rang. Thirty minutes later, my twenty-four-year-old son came to visit. (Of course this is fine. I'm always glad to see him.)
We visit. We laugh. He sings as he plays a song on his guitar. I smile the same proud smile I smiled when he sang in his Mothers Day Out programs.
I'm proud of my son. At noon, I give my son, who I'm proud of, a ride home. He lives about twenty five minutes from me. And just as we were turning into the driveway, I sensed God asking How would you react if he forgot his keys?
Well, guess what? Yep. He forgot his keys and his wallet. SO, back to the house we go. He apologized profusely. Offered to buy me lunch. "It's okay sweetie. It happens. No worries."
What can you do, right? A display of anger or disappointment won't get me there and back any faster. It would only hurt him. When I was younger, I would've shown my frustration. Robbed him of sweet memories of fellowship with his mother. By the grace of God, I don't have to vent over minor inconveniences.
I've been asking God a lot lately to reveal more of the grace in my heart. It's in there. Jesus is in there. So there must be a lot of it. Our travel time came to about two hours when all was said and done. Two hours of laughing and talking with a son who hated me throughout his teen years. (Much of his anger was justified.)
It's never too late to improve how we relate to the ones we love. Do they feel good about themselves after spending time with us? Or do they leave feeling like a disappointment to us?
I'm just sayin'.
Published on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @ 2:17 PM CDT