Sally writes: I am preparing this Friday 5 just before I take Chris into hospital for a cardioversion, right now we are all a little apprehensive. But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or another, so many have amazing stories to tell of God's faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5
1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like... As those who have been reading along know, I have been wrestling with the shame demons of my past of late. This is not the first round. I pray it is the last, as it is a very old fight and truly I am tired of it. This shame and funky stuff with power in my life has taken me through reading lots of self-help books and twelve-step groups, and several rounds of therapy, muddled some relationships and generally been a life-sapping, distracting influence. It has only been in this last round however, that I have been so aware of God's presence in the struggle with me. While I'm sure God has been there all along, I'm having the grace to experience it now. The "Providences" have been so numerous, the incredible people who have "shown up" in my life to love and support me in this struggle (you know who you are), books that someone mentions that are "just right," a blog post from one of you that says exactly what I'm feeling, or a comment that holds me up on a rough day, a "random" remark from a co-worker, I see God's faithfulness in it all, God's encouragement to persevere in hope, God's great and overflowing love for me desiring that I be healed, once and for all.
2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through? Yes. In 1992 a whole series of events including job loss, financial stress, relationship problems, the death of my brother and a whole host of other things toppled my tower. I lost faith. I asked that fateful question. "How," I wondered, "could a God who supposedly loved me bring all this crap on my head?" I also became clinically depressed in the midst of it all and ended up seeing a very wise therapist. She sent me for meds, encouraged me to read Rabbi Kushner's book and to rant and weep and lament in her compassionate presence. As I was ready she encouraged me to go back to church, to talk with my priest. My priest told me God did not bring the crap at all but was certainly with me in it. Time passed, I found a new job, kept putting one foot in front of the other. One day I woke up and there was color in the world again. Grace, I think. Just grace that led me home.
3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort? The Canticle of Isaiah from Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer has been my constant companion for the past couple years.....Surely, it is God who saves me; * I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, * and he will be my Savior. Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing * from the springs of salvation. And on that day you shall say, * Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; Make his deeds known among the peoples; * see that they remember that his Name is exalted. Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, * and this is known in all the world. Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, * for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel. The First Song of Isaiah Ecce, Deus Isaiah 12:26 From Morning Prayer, Rite II, BCP
4. Is "why suffering" a valid question? It is certainly a human question. I ask it, my clients ask it, my congregants ask it. I think it is hardwired into us to ask it. But why not, really? It's part of the human condition, yes? I remember reading Man's Search for Meaning so long ago and really getting that it is not so much that we are ever going to escape it, but it is what we do with the pain of life that matters. It can be in vain, or it can count. It's up to us.
5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate? I am going to gather up everyone (even if I have to do it "virtually") who has been my cheerleaders, supporters, prayers, butt-kickers (need them too!), and throw one great party of thanksgiving and recognition that I couldn't have done it without you all! Great food, wine, music, dancing, conversation and much, much love and laughter!
Bonus- Was just thinking this morning about this ring and how many folks are going through changes and waiting and struggles and questioning...overcoming indeed...and how we are present to one another in this bloggy little universe in such good and supportive ways through the "miracle" of technology. This is a good Friday Five at a good time. Prayers especially to Chris and his family.