Wednesday, January 20, 2016

To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.
 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.                                 Psalm 123, ESV

It is all vanity. I tire of chasing wind. I am weary and have had more than enough of my own pride and contempt. Wherefore my scorn? My soul has had more than enough. Yet I cannot desist. 
I am a nothing chasing nothing furiously. 

Nothing satisfies. My God, the love of my youth, I ignore. Turn again, O God, and deliver me. Save me because of your unfailing love. To you I lift my eyes. I am your servant - though wayward - the child of your maidservant; loose again my bonds. 

Teach me to be Christ's slave. I cannot serve two masters. Teach me to die to myself, that I may live. Drown me again. I have resisted the flood too long. Slay my ambition, my desire to achieve, to accomplish, to build a tower to the heavens. Wash away the shame of my constant failures to reach my goals. 

Do not leave me where I am. I am afraid and uncertain. I do the things I hate and none of the things I want. At my best, I am an act, a farce. (Sometimes I think that's half of professionalism: to act a role for the benefit of your client. I know what I should say and do and I do it because that's the protocol, the algorithm. I want to make everyone feel heard, and cared for, and loved, and I know the affect to put on to make that happen.) Do slaves of Christ wear a mask? 

I remember a time when I cared for others because of a joy that sprang up inside me. I wanted to radiate a peace and love that I felt inside. Now the joy has withered. I find that I still want to communicate love and peace to others, but no longer motivated by joy. I want them to feel peace because I, with them, know the anguish of emptiness. I help them because I hate the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and incompetence that plague all humanity. How great is that darkness.

Will I ever relive the joy? Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. A broken and contrite heart you will not despise, but mine is not yet broken - merely resentful and restless. Break it and mend. The ache is unbearable, I want a sharp pain. Debride the ulcer that will not heal. Cut out the eye that causes me to sin, and the hand, and the foot, and the tongue, and the mind, and the soul, but it is still insufficient. You alone can transform rather than merely mutilate. 

You, who are enthroned in the heavens, lift up my eyes to you. My attention is distracted here on earth. I do not spare time or energy to regard you, yet my soul aches for you. As my earthly husband will not allow me to ignore him, so, Great Bridegroom, do not allow me to ignore you. Call to me again, and lift my eyes to you until you show me mercy. Show me Mercy dying for me. Show me Mercy drowning me. Show me Mercy feeding me. Show me Mercy forgiving me. Show me Mercy leading me. Fix my eyes on him who is Mercy. And may this Mercy rid me of my scorn, contempt, and pride which stir up shame and despair. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Toward a Proper Condemnation of Cruelty to Animals

Here's something that occurred to me about four years ago. I saved it to work on for a bit, and never had time, so here goes some preliminary thoughts that will hopeful have more substantial permutations in years to come. 

I posit that:

Cruelty to animals is wrong not primarily because of animal nature but because of human nature.

Humans were intended to care for animals. (As part of having dominion. Genesis 1:26-28) Husbandry is rooted in our nature.

Animals are inherently less valuable than humans. (Humans alone have the Imago Dei. Genesis 1:27. God demands a reckoning for man's life, but eating animals is allowed, post flood. Genesis 9:3-6)

When a human acts with cruelty toward an animal, he does violence to his own humanity. He does not degrade the animal so much as he degrades himself. To act cruelly toward an animal is to act contrary to man's nature (how man was created to be, "nature" as distinct from the fallen "condition"). It is to act as an animal, with no regard to rationality or to man's final end (the end sought is a feeling of power or retribution, which, though momentarily satisfying, do not lead to true happiness).

Thus, when we condemn the cruel man, we ought not to focus on "animal rights." An animal does not have natural rights, only legal ones. What is under consideration is not the rights of the animal, but the actions of the man. The morality of those actions has less to do with the animal than which the character of the man. The man has shown himself to be defective in his character; he has acted less than human. He has inflicted pain without cause or reason. His action is reprehensible because it harms a creature he was intended to care for; not only was a creature harmed, but he harmed it, and in so doing, he harmed his own character and violated his own humanity.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Year

It's been almost a year since my last post. Who knew the days could fly so fast? The Baby is now a Toddler, eager to get his hands on or into everything in reach. As we anticipate the next child, hubby and I continue to plug away at the seemingly endless routine of work, meals, child-care, clean-up, and the "adult" activities of health insurance, auto insurance, mortgage, electrical and propane bills, car needs, home repair and maintenance - responsibilities we were blissfully unaware of a mere three years ago. When we manage to surface for a few breaths of free time, the question inevitably comes up again: What are we going to do with ourselves when we grow up?

But that's really an ingenuous question. We are grown up (mostly), we know it, and that's just the issue. We no longer have the luxury of endless career searching and unencumbered voyages of self-discovery. We have discovered our place and purpose in the context of our marriage and growing family. But we are hardly closer to discovering (or landing a job in) our niches in the economic sector. The priceless ties of marriage and expanding family urge the primacy of bringing in sufficient income. Thus confronted, we realize that the lurking suspicions of our youth were right all along: "Do what you love" is bad educational advice financially unless you want to be single or childless. I ended up entering the nursing profession because I wasn't sure what I wanted, but knew this field would marry some of my interests with gainful employment. I'm glad I did. But how does the adult who doesn't have a clear career pathway (like nursing) laid out discover and enter a field which will (at least minimally) fulfill him (or at least not drive him crazy) and allow him to provide sufficient income for his family?

Any number of suggestions (helpful and otherwise) have been offered by well-meaning family and friends, and I am not fishing for more. I am stating a dilemma. The progress of discernment and progression toward goal achievement is slowed by the constant urgency of the above-mentioned family, home, and job responsibilities. So, it's not difficult to opt for the status quo, even when the work-situation status quo is less than satisfying. It's a job after all, there's some money coming in, and we have each other, our little family, and plenty of responsibilities to occupy time outside of work.

(On a similar note, we've also slowly realized the truth of another suspicion. Namely, that despite all the stress placed on applications, resumes, portfolios, cover-letters, certifications, and extracurriculars, hiring is largely based on who you know. Connections with the right people mean everything in a competitive job market, making entry into a particular area of work the most difficult hurdle to jump. )

But enough on searching for meaningful employment...We are happy, if often tired. Our marriage has been blessed abundantly. Child 1 remains fairly healthy other than some asthmatic tendencies (and did I mention a size that's off the charts?) Child 2 arrives (God-willing) in 7 weeks. I'm back in school part-time, trying to finish a Bachelor's in Nursing while continuing to work full-time. Hubby is juggling child-care, independent studies, home-chores, and a part-time night job. Our home is never completely clean, orderly, or repaired, but what of that? It's comfortable for us.

And our families continue to be nothing but supportive. Without their friendship, love,emergency transportation, and babysitting, we would not be able to function as smoothly or sanely as we have. For all that, we are thankful.

So on to 2014. The year of "I don't know what we're going to do, but here it comes so we'll figure it out." This year could look remarkably like the last one, or a whole lot different. How's that for profound. ;)