Friday, March 16, 2012

The Fam'

I've taken a brief hiatus from writing as I've been in the Pacific Northwest, riding bikes with my brother, hanging out with my parents, sister, spousal in-laws and nieces.

But I'm back, and the creative juices seem to be flowing again.  My writing process goes something like this, in case you're curious: I pick up my Bible, do a bunch of structured reading until some tension within me feels like it's about to go snap, and then I write.

This morning though, I don't have anything too big to write about, or at least anything that boiling in my belly (that sounds really painful).  So if you don't want to read something really random and pointless, I advise skipping to one of my other posts - unfortunately most of those are pretty random as well, so you might want to skip reading them altogether and simply look at the pictures.

But I think I'll write about family, since I've just been with them (it's kind of a no-duh).  While I was in Vancouver and Seattle, I was able to reconnect to something that has always been a source of the good life for me.  I was travelling alone, away from the responsibilities of home, husband, and father, and I had time just to curl up in bed at night, look out at the bright lights outside my window and just be a kid again, with everything taken care of for me, and a mind free and comfortable to wander.

And my adventures with my brother, are worthy of a post all to themselves.  We decided to build up a bike for brother's pastor and friend, and when we were done, we just had to ride it before we gave it away.  Yes, it was too beautiful of a bike and the trails near Seattle were just begging for us to apply all of our skills in an attempt to find speed, adrenaline and general "bad-assness" coursing through our beings.

Well Taylor and I found our trails, and while they were "bad-ass", we were not.  I'm not saying we were complete wusses, but the jumps and drops and generalized craziness we found, had us contemplating selling our bikes and buying bikes with training wheels and pink tassles.  And while we were able to go fast, and jump a little, I learned a few more things about me that I had forgotten.

I learned that I love getting dirty!  I learned that I love riding in snow one minute and drizzling wet mud the next - I particularly love the sucking sound my tire makes when leaving mud.  I learned that I love hidden beautiful places that hardly anyone goes to or knows about.  I learned that I still am 10 years old inside.  I learned that I still love the crisp, clean air, fueled by evergreens.  And I learned that I still love these adventures with my brother.  He's a good man whom I'm honored to know and learn from, but just as good he's my friend from childhood, who can take me back to some of the best things in life, like giggling until we snort actual snot about something really, really stupid.

After our adventures, we came back home to my brother's wonderful wife and four girls, and they regaled us with stories of their lives and adventures of their own.

And then it was great to be with my parents, sister and new brother.  They all welcomed me into their home in Vancouver and demanded nothing of me, but simply loved and cherished being with me.   Mom made my favorite: carrot-cake, announcing that "It's healthy for you!" and I spent the weekend relishing the fact that my favorite desert is good for me and is a good substitute for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Hurray!

Then my sister showed me her art project that she's been working on for her Master's in Christian Studies at Regent, which was staggeringly beautiful.  Pretty amazing that my little sister is all grown up, married and such an amazing artist!  She's a kindred spirit.  We seem to be very alike in how we think about life, and it's always a delight to be around her and it was great to find out more about the man she's chosen to love.  He's a fascinating and fun individual himself, the kind of guy you feel honored to know.

All in all, it was the trip my heart had been longing for.  A trip to reconnect with my family and find refreshment.  But it was something more.  It was a trip into my past in the present.

Hang in with me here, because this might get hard.  Vancouver, and in particular Regent College, is where I first found out that I struggle deeply with depression.  It was about the year 2000, when I pretty much had a nervous break-down (after beating a performance track horse to death) and was forced to go on bed-rest and move in with my parents.  There they could keep an eye on me during the day while Melissa worked.  It was both a humbling and terrifying time.

I remember not being able to control my thoughts.  I remember the violence that was going on inside me.  I remember simply wishing I was dead.

But one memory that sticks out is my counselor's reaction to one of my most sober admitions - that I found her attractive. I had no intentions, but just to admit my thinking felt like THE CRIME above all crimes. As she is a friend of my mom's and a friend of mine, not to mention my professor/friend's wife, I thought that it was totally inappropriate to think of her as attractive and that she would be shocked and would reject me as her patient immediately.

But something else happened, something glorious.  Her face beamed with delight, she laughed and shared with me that all of her male patients had commented that she was attractive at some point, and that she simply took it as a compliment.

This came at a pivotal time, for rejection would have been the last straw for me, with my violent thoughts and now admittance of what I thought of at the time as inappropriate thoughts.  That's what I was waiting for, rejection.  But what I got was acceptance and healing.

My whole life I've been waiting for the shoe to drop, for disaster to strike and to lose everything.  Having actually come close to losing my mind, I know how fragile and tenuous life can be.

And whether you've had a loving family like the one I have above, which isn't perfect - we have our flaws - or have come from a painful home where you've suffered, I believe that my experience last week may have something in it that is universal to all of us.

We all yearn to be known, and loved anyway.  But we know that what we know about ourselves could wind us up in jail.  We know that to actually be known could be a terrifying experience.  We know that to be exposed should be the end of us.

But the good news for all of us is that we have a home in God.  We have someone who knows our unknowable traits, laughs like my counselor, loves us, bakes carrot-cakes for us, and invites us to have grand adventures in his creation, not to mention giggle until we snort snot out of our nostrils.  We have a God who wants us to embrace our inner ten-year-olds, or better said actually embraces our inner ten-year-old.  We have a God who will never let the shoe drop.  He will never leave us or forsake us.

And we have a God who invites us to become a family with other believers, revealing our secrets and warts and finding that, simply because of Him, we are not rejected by them either.  Maybe that's the most profound truth of the Gospel:  where we expect rejection (and justly so) we find acceptance, where we expect terror we find peace, and where we expect judgement we find grace.

Where we expect rejection, we find family.

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