Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I received an email recently that stung. It wasn't ugly or rude, and I'm sure the sender had no such intentions of injury or pain. But it punctured the skin of my heart ... like that thorn from the eggplant stem I got in my finger over the summer. After the email, an incident came to mind that I haven't thought of in decades. Surely this had nothing to do with the email. Or did it? I was transported back some 40 years to a church bus. I was so in love, and he was now sitting next to me on the seat, but only as a matter of convenience. It was a very one-sided affair and he was not the least bit interested. We were just "friends." Actually pretty good friends at that. And so I made an observation about another guy in the group. I said, "James won't quit looking at me." And it was the next comment that bit. My friend said, "You know, I really don't care." Sting.
It's silly the things that hurt when you're young. But as most adolescents do, we survive and grow into pretty responsible adults. But why would that scene play so fresh in my mind so many years later -- especially on this particular day? Could it be because it's the "same old same old" with which I'm dealing?
Yet God is so good not to leave us hanging with injury. Just that morning I had underlined a passage in a book I was reading that I believe spoke to both situations, present and past; words that still stung ... but for a different reason and a potentially different result.
In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen wrote, "Sue did not give me much chance to protest: 'You have been looking for friends all your life; you have been craving for affection as long as I've known you; you have been interested in thousands of things; you have been begging for attention, appreciation, and affirmation left and right. The time has come to claim your true vocation ...'"
Wow. "Craving." "Begging." That's some pretty hefty wording. To be noticed, appreciated and affirmed. Those are some pretty hefty accusations. But, really, can we ... I ... ever grow out of it? I believe the answer is YES, or why else would God bring three such situations together, put His holy finger on the source of injury and say, "This. It's time we talk about it."
So what do I do? Continue in rebellion, wallow in self-pity and end up a little more bitter with every thorn that comes my way? Or do I surrender myself to His love and forgiveness and allow Him to take the stinger out?
Just an ordinary moment...