Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I'm going to start out by saying something that is going to cause a collective "gasp" throughout most of my circle of friends, and will leave folks saying to themselves, or under their breath, or hell, even to someone else, "I can't believe he said that...especially with his career and all..." So here it is, right out of the gate: The next person who comes up to me, with some sort of self-denial laced smile on their face, and says this..."God is good...all the time...all the time...God is good." I will not be responsible for my actions. You have been warned.
I'm mad as hell. I don't know who or what I'm mad at, but today I have found myself at a level of pissed off I've never been at before in my life. Maybe I'm having some serious theodicy issues (justice of God stuff) and maybe I am mad at God. Maybe I'm pissed at the medical community because we can map most of the human genome but we can't figure out why what happened this morning keeps happening. Maybe I'm pissed at myself because I'm the dad, and protector, of my progeny. I don't know.
Some days, being a servant of a loving God is just a slap in the face. If I were still building houses, no one would even flinch if I had a bad day and let a few explicatives fly. In fact, it's almost expected. But since I'm clergy, most folks think that I (we) have everything under control, take it all on the chin, and smile all the way through...no matter what life deals us. We're expected, (in most places, not all) to have this inner peace that never, ever gets shattered. Well, today I learned that's just not always possible.
I'm mad as hell. Did I mention that? I know deep inside that it's nobody's fault, and that there is no one to blame, but something within me wants to scream, cry, cuss, and tear the hell out of something. Something within me needs to find some release. So, you're welcome to stop reading here and see what's on TV, because it's about to get very real.
I have two beautiful daughters, 17 and 13 years old. I love them more than life itself. I have chased off boyfriends because I knew what they wanted. I have changed dirty diapers. I have bandaged boo-boos. I have climbed trees to help get them down. For 17 years I've taken my role as dad pretty seriously. Granted, seminary kind of kicked that in the teeth for a few years because I was never home, but for the most part, I've watched out for them pretty well.
My oldest daughter, for those who don't know, has epilepsy. She was diagnosed nearly five years ago. She has all the different kinds of seizures: absence, petit mal, grand mal...we've been through one doctor after another, tried more medicines that I can keep up with, one trip after another to the hospital for evaluations and tests...and she's been a trooper. One time in five years she asked, "Why me?' Just once. That's a hell of a witness from a teenager. This morning, all hell broke loose in her daddy's world, though.
I was cooking breakfast and she came into the kitchen to take her meds. I noticed that she was trying to go into a seizure, but watched her fight it off like a member of the USMC. Without giving it much thought at all, I told her to go on and get ready for school. Ten minutes later, she came back into the kitchen, and here is what I saw: my gorgeous 17 year old was unrecognizable because of the blood covering her face and running down her neck. There was a look of terror in her eyes that I've never seen before, and hope to God never to see again. Her hair was matted down with blood, and she was holding bloody hands out to me, crying. I freaked out, but she didn't see that. I got her to a chair, sat her down, and started cleaning off the blood. It took four dish towels.
After I got her cleaned up, and her mom got into the kitchen, I said that I was going to go clean up the blood out of the bathroom because I figured that's where she was. Instead, she was in her bedroom when she seized, and on the white carpet (who in the hell puts white carpet in a house anyhow?), all of her pillows, her desk, her bed, her clothes on the floor, her notebook...was blood. So much blood. She had hit her forehead after the seizure started and fell face down on the floor. None of us knew she was seizing. Then I started freaking out for real. My daughter's blood...everywhere.
For an hour and a half I cleaned her blood out of carpet, pillows, and towels. And I cried. A lot. Go ahead, call me a sissy. I dare you.
That was this morning. I still can't get the image of her standing there, covered in blood, reaching out to me, out of my head. But she's alive...and 95% of the time leads a perfectly normal life. It's the 5% that pisses me off.
So, this afternoon, I'm trying to regain some perspective. Yeah, she has epilepsy. Yeah, she may never drive a car. Sure, college is going to be hard as hell for her. A job? I think she'll be fine if she has an understanding boss. We're trying to teach her to take care of herself, making her order her own prescription refills, and set out her own meds (a lot of meds). She's a tough kid. A lot tougher than her old man.
So, evolution begins...Dum Vita Est Spes Est...While there's life, there's hope. You Latin geeks tell me if that is the right translation, I just found it online.
Where there is life, there's hope. By damn, I hope so. Where there's life there's hope. I looked at her after she got back from getting stitches and there was life. Her color was perfect. She was laughing (I think the little Yoda doll I found her helped). She was poking at the stitches because it was still numb. She had a hell of a lot more life in her at that moment than I did, so I've decided that it is from her life, and her hope, and her strength that I will draw mine.
Now, you can say, "Jamie, you're a preacher, your hope is supposed to be in Christ." I'd say you're probably right. But the reality is, I felt pretty alone cleaning up all of that blood. Oh, not completely alone, I had friends constantly encouraging me. Today, I need something tangible. Not an idol, really, but something I can look at...put my eyes on...and say, "There is life. There really is hope." Hell, maybe it is an idol, but if you think so, keep it to yourself. Today I don't want to hear it. Today, I needed to look into those eyes that had been so filled with fear this morning, and see life. That gives me hope.
Sure, I have hope in the resurrection and the new creation, but you know what, sometimes I don't want to be a theologian. Sometimes I just want to be a dad. Sometimes I don't want to think so deep about every little thing, (and wish to God others wouldn't all the time either...loosen up, people...holy hell) and instead, just be. Just be a guy. Just be a dad. Just be pissed for a while.
I'll get over it. Tonight I'll strap on my guitar and the praise band will practice. That will help a lot. Always does. I'll be able to be a theologian once again tomorrow, but for a little while today, I just needed to be mad. But when the mad is gone, and some sense of normal returns, there is life...there is hope.