Friday, June 5, 2009

The Shack

If I am honest with myself, I can admit that there are many things that I would change about my past if I could. The age old, "If I only knew then what I know now..." comes to mind because I think we, as humans, all tend to carry some regrets. They sometimes weigh us down. But I have also allowed myself to believe that some of the things that I would change if I could are the exact things that have made me who I am today. Out of regret comes knowledge. And if you are smart, you take that knowledge and use it to better yourself and those around you. If I was to say that I have taken my own advice for every regret I have, I would be lying. But the many regrets that I have chosen to use for good have made me better. A better mother. A better wife. A better daughter. A better friend and sister and acquaintance. Just a better person. I know that my past is what brought me here today.

I cannot describe myself as an avid church-goer. Many Sundays have passed in which a seat sat empty where I could have sat to worship. But I will not say that just because I do not worship in a church I am any less of a servant of God than those who gather under one roof. I am a sinner and I am weak in His presence, and I have a long journey to become the servant that I want to be, but I am trying. The journey that has led me to the Lord started when I was a little girl, attending the Catholic church with my parents every Sunday. I have lost my way many times as I have grown into womanhood, but I somehow manage to find my way back.

I remember when my husband and I, dating at the time, started attending church with his mother on Sundays here and there. The pastor is one of those who grabs your attention with his speaking voice, not because it is loud, but because it has an air of importance. You feel like you are commanded to listen, and the sermons flow from him with such grace and passion that they wrap themselves around you. I was amazed at how touched I was by his sermons, never having experienced such a grip in the name of the Lord. I guess maybe that was a turning point in my life, listening to his words. I always felt like the sermons were written just for me. They moved me in ways I had never been moved before, and I think it was then that I truly realized the Lord's grace. I am sad to say that I have not attended that church in a very long time, too afraid to expose Coulby to all of the germs in the church nursery, but I also know that I have to face my fears and let God do the rest. I know I must hand my fears over to Him. That is one of the things I am working on.

Then my husband and I were engaged and the same pastor mentioned above was to marry us. He required that we do pre-marital counseling prior to the wedding, to which I was agreeable, but had no idea what it would entail and how much I would take what I learned and apply it to my marriage. Looking back, I really think the counseling was one of the key pillars in what my marriage to my husband is today. We are solid, devoted, loving and faithful, with the Lord being the third party in our relationship. There was a biblical verse that our pastor asked us each to read and interpret, and I remember my naive and ignorant interpretation. The gist was that a woman should serve her husband. I, feeling very strongly about equality of the sexes, responded by saying that I felt like this was an unfair burden for a wife to be subservient to a husband. Shouldn't each person in a marriage get equal satisfaction? If the pastor could have, I am sure he would have clunked me upside the head (as in the V8 commercials) to wake me up! Instead, he listened to me without judgement, then listened to my husband, and only then proceeded to educate us. These two naive, dare I say dumb, young lovebirds needed the guidance that the pastor then offered: Marriage is not about subservience or dominance, but rather getting your satisfaction from satisfying your spouse. That was the light bulb moment for me (aha!) in which I got it. It explained everything...not just marriage, but a relationship with the Lord, and with any others in my life.

Now I have said it many times before, but I must profess again that I truly believe that my two babies are true miracles of God. All babies are. Having said this, I can also say that having Coulby could have shattered any relationship that I had with God. When he was diagnosed with Citrullinemia at 4 days old, I wept and let myself stray away from the Lord to ask, "Why him? Why me?," only to return to him in the same breath and pray that He wrap his arms around Coulby and heal his tiny broken body. In all honesty, "why" has been the hardest thing to keep at bay since Coulby's birth, because some times were so hard and I felt such despair that I could not focus enough to see all of the blessings we have been given. And I do count my blessings. Every day. I know what could be with Coulby, and how fortunate we are. And I praise the Lord, for he has wrapped Coulby in his embrace and breathed His life into him. Coulby might always live with Citrullinemia, and there will be many moments when it will seem unfair for him to have to suffer, but I have learned that those are the moments when I need to turn to God the most. I hope I can instill that in my children as they grow.

Now I am finally at the whole point of this post. I am an avid reader, and usually read books that are passed on to me by friends and family. My mother-in-law recently brought me a book and I added it to my stack of "to be read" books. I was in the middle of a book at the time, and when I was ready to read the next one, the cover of the book my mother-in-law had brought me caught my eye. It was not next in line, but it sparked my interest, and I began reading it: The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. This book has touched me in ways that I cannot even describe. It is almost as if I could follow the story like it was my own personal journey to the presence of God in my life. It opened doors that I did not even realized I had closed. A true must-read for anyone questioning their faith or longing for a better relationship with God or struggling with any aspects of life. A must-read for everyone! Best stated by author David Gregory's review: "An exceptional piece of writing that ushers you directly into the heart and nature of God in the midst of agonizing human suffering. This amazing story will challenge you to consider the person and the plan of God in more expansive terms than you may have ever dreamed."

If you enjoy reading, or even if you do not, pick up this book! You will not want to put it down! It is written so well, intertwining the story of a man struggling with his faith after he suffers a tragic loss when his young daughter is abducted and feared murdered, with the divine existence of God, even in our dark world. Reading this book is an experience in and of itself!

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