Tag Archives: Job

From Desolation to Consolation

 

Bluebonnets by Vikki Yost

The last six months has introduced me to a whole other side of disability ministry. It all began with a phone call my mother received within 15 minutes of my arrival for Christmas vacation.  My son hurried down the hall, “Grandma needs you.”

Hands filled with items from my suitcase, I didn’t bother looking up. “Thanks, let her know I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“You better go now.  She’s crying.”

Thus began the journey with what we now know to be terminal cancer and my time in desolation. It is all too familiar territory. Diagnosis can be devastating for the caregiver whether for a child or for a parent. There is a relief in knowing what it is, finally, even when the news is not good. And there is grief.  Lots of grief. That process muted my voice to the parents whom I try to support.

Dr. Jack Levinson spoke at a clergy breakfast I attended and offered the keys to unlock where I have been trapped. “When in desolation, remember consolation. When in consolation, remember desolation.” My ministry has been one of remembering desolation and offering hope to parents. A voice of experience saying, “Yes, I have been there too. You are going to be alright. More than alright. You can thrive right where you have planted.”

We all move between the spaces of desolation and consolation. Some call it peaks and valleys. How do we breathe, how do we function, whether in the middle, bottom or top?

The key is faith.  In the story of Job, we see a person caught in extreme desolation. He had lost everything, family, wealth, status, health. Even his friends abandoned him, save for a few. (Sound familiar?) His truest friends came and sat with him in the ashes, for a time in silence, sharing his pain. Once they spoke up they didn’t always have the most helpful things to say, but don’t we all fumble for the right words at times?  Their loyalty was a gift in the hardest of times. Job kept the faith despite his hardships and he came out on the other side stronger for it.

In a way, I think the experience of Job helps explain the bond between parents on the journey with special needs.  Our stories are all different, as unique as our children, yet we know at times a sense of desolation. Loss. Grief. But those are balanced with joy of new-found abilities, hope in a future not yet seen, and the peace that surpasses all understanding even in the midst of chaos. The way in which parents reach out to each other offering support and encouragement to one another pours back and forth that cup of consolation, filling in all of the cracks, mending and making us stronger.

When in desolation, remember consolation.

I received a four word text from a friend. I knew instantly that she, too, was in desolation. I immediately  called and shared a long, heart-felt conversation.  Why? As I read her message I told myself, “Remember consolation.” It turns out consolation makes the desolation not quite as bad.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:1-3 NRS)

Consoling God, Like Job, we praise you in good times and in bad, for you are forever faithful. We thank you for those in our lives who remember consolation. Keep us mindful to return the favor. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Image “Bluebonnets” courtesy of Vikki Yost

Dr. Jack Levinson is William Joseph Ambrose Power Professor of Biblical Hebrew and Old Testament Interpretation at Perkins School of Theology and author of several books, including his most recent, 40 Days with the Holy Spirit.

Beauty in the Broken Places

Recently Jolene Philo at DifferentDream.com kindly invited me to guest blog on her site and I shared this story about what I’ve learned about letting go of perfection in a life with special needs. You can read the original post here:  http://www.differentdream.com/2014/10/beauty-in-the-broken-places-of-special-needs-parenting/

Who Me

I have lived with cats my entire married life.  They are naughty.  Every day as my son leaves the house he calls out, “Coco, don’t set anything on fire.”  This has yet to happen, but I tell you she has the potential.

I find that living with cats impacts my home décor. Knick-knacks need to be non-fragile, bottom heavy, or inexpensive.  Preferably all three. My mother visited Spain and brought back for me a tall and delicate porcelain figurine.  I’ve glued it back together so often that it is more glue than porcelain at this point.  Coco just looks at me all innocent, “Who? Me?”

When I was younger imperfections bothered me. Nicks and chips and brokenness have come to matter less. Maybe that has to do with the lessons learned over a decade or two with special needs. We all have brokenness somewhere. Maybe it’s the brokenness that says, “I’ve lived a life. I’ve taken some hard knocks. I’ve come out stronger for it. The chips and nicks mean I’ve been out there trying.”

There is a style of Japanese art work called Kintsugi. It means “beautifully broken.” It is pottery that has been broken and then repaired with seams of pure gold or silver. When I see these amazing creations of beauty from brokenness I see that perfection is over-rated. The real beauty comes from the brokenness.

Sometimes as a special needs parent I feel broken like that porcelain figurine. I’m sure you do too sometimes. Knocked about, nicks and chips out there for everyone to see.  I also know we are not alone.  God walks with us on good days and bad days alike, pouring his love and grace into the broken places.  Where God pours in the gold, we are made all the stronger for the journey.

“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.  (Job 23:10 NLT)

Prayer: Loving God, fill the broken places so that your glory shines in the world for all to see. Amen.

To see the beauty and variety of Kintsugi, search for images with your favorite search engine. It is stunningly beautiful art out of everyday simple things. Also, Keep an eye out for Jolene’s new book Caregiver’s Notebook coming out soon.  It’s a great organizational tool for special needs parents. You can read more details here:  http://www.differentdream.com/2014/10/caregivers-notebook/

Photo: “Who Me?” by Lorna Bradley