John’s post yesterday perfectly paved the way for this one. As I read it, I wondered, are we shaped more powerfully by our response to what we didn’t have than by what we did? I’ll use John as an example.
John wanted his father to be more engaged and effusive than he was or could be. Well, I would say that John is one of the most engaged and connected and effusive men I’ve ever met. John has so latched on to God that he’s ever engaged with what God is on. It’s quite astonishing and wonderful to see the warmth and focus of Christ moving from person to person so naturally in John. He’s real and present and connected in a way that few people are. I thank God wholeheartedly for His choice of parents for John because the resultant vessel is magnificent.
I have repeatedly talked about God’s gift of pulling me outside of my self-inspection to see things from a different perspective (i.e. God’s view) when it comes to dealing with parents. As John’s post made so very clear, this is utterly essential to the process. John’s revelation of God’s complete understanding of him and all he needed would not have come if John never left John Island, party of one.
To that end, why didn’t you have what you so desperately wanted? Or why did you have truly terrible parents? Was God just messing with you? With me? With all of us? No, He wasn’t. The adventure of my life – and yours – is discovering this vast mystery that is God and what His dream of me looks like. And no small part of that is making peace with ALL He gave me and will give me, the joys and the suffering.
One of my favorite documentaries is Buck. It’s a simple, beautiful look at the life of the real-life horse whisperer named Buck Brannaman. His mother died when he was very young, and he and his brother were rescued from his horribly abusive drunk of a father and placed in foster care. With a story like that, bitterness would be unsurprising. Instead, you meet a quiet, humble man who has made enormous strides in making peace with his story – thanks in no small part to a foster mom who loved him with God’s love and taught him about forgiveness.
Buck is a man worth watching not in spite of his parents, but because he chose to respond to his childhood suffering with forgiveness and acceptance. This little documentary won countless awards and won over audiences around the world, and it’s because of who Buck is as a man – not the story. It is an incredible picture of the impact that humility and forgiveness make in a world where the norm is power and revenge.
I always forget that. I ever underestimate the power of Christ’s life and light because the darkness seems so unmistakably present. But to forgive is to unleash the power of heaven, and to meet the sovereign God who is LOVE.
I started my journey of making peace with my story and dealing with my parents because I wanted healing. I was tired of hurting and being tormented by bitterness. I continue because, like John, I am finding out more about who God is in the process – and He’s amazingly personal and engaged. Suffering may shape our stories, or even play a big part in them, but it’s not the whole story and it’s certainly not the end!