Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Kind of Princess Are You?--A Mother's Day Reflection

With Mother’s day in the rearview mirror, I am still pondering womanhood. The holiday hit me pretty hard this year. I felt equally sad for our losses and thankful for our blessings. I sobbed over Audrey’s death. Bryan wept over his mother’s death. I opened precious cards from Caroline and Mary Claire and enjoyed their affection.  And, we all ate cake! No, we didn’t actually eat cake, but you get what I mean. We grieved and celebrated on the same day. Emotions at both poles can be confusing, to say the least. But, in the deep seat of my soul, beneath the feelings about what I have gained and lost, I sensed an overwhelming desire to BE the woman God made me to be…to figure out what that really means. I want to see with a wise and grateful heart the place from which I have come, the place I am now, and the place I am going. I want to act on things that I will be proud of when my life is said and done. In a word, I guess I am talking about legacy.

When God made me a woman, what did He intend for me to be? What part of His image do I reflect? What is my purpose? My worth? I have been reflecting on the ways in which my own mom shaped my world view and gave me the skills I still use today. I have contemplated how she is continually influencing who I am becoming. And, I have been asking the tough questions. Lord, how do I convey the value of womanhood to my daughters? Let them know of their great value to You? How do I help them see their role in Your world at this time in history? How do I build their strength to face whatever comes their way?

As I mull over all these things, my heart is drawn to the Proverbs. Written as a relational guidebook, Proverbs consists of wisdom from a father to a son about how to fear God, respect your parents, and find a good wife. For those of us whose chromosomes are XX, Proverbs 31:10-31 is a familiar passage of Scripture. As Christian women, we often see it as a standard of godly womanhood…and often a tall order we cannot possibly fulfill. But, a quick reading of the passage, or even a thoughtful memorization of it cannot provide the insight we need to understand its intent. For all its familiarity, I think we often miss its true meaning. Proverbs 31 was written as a Hebrew poem, and it is actually a representation of wisdom in female persona. In other words, all of the other advice given in the book of Proverbs is summarized in Proverbs 31—in female form.

Sometimes we read through what this chick does, and we think, yeah, right! I’m not everybody’s slave. I’m not burning the candle at both ends. I can’t be all those things. But, I think we have the wrong visual image of the woman being depicted. May I present you with the woman I used to see when I read Proverbs 31?

You guessed it. Cinderella. Before said prince sweeps her off her feet. This woman works her fingers to the bone and endures the harsh words of her mean sisters and stepmother. And, she does it all with the grandest work ethic and the sweetest disposition. All she needs to endure her life of servitude and mistreatment is an occasional song with a couple of adorable mice. She is the original super woman.

You can imagine my relief when I discovered that my imagery was all wrong. This is the woman I should have been picturing:

Where in the world did you get that idea, you may ask? None other than the original Hebrew, my sister! Let’s take a look at Proverbs 31:10, shall we? Now, I don’t know what Bible translations you’ve been reading, but all the ones I’ve ever seen look like this: “An excellent (noble, capable, virtuous) wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” Ok, I like jewels. I like the idea that I am worth a lot. And, being excellent, capable, and virtuous are all good things. But, did you know that the Hebrew word used here is “Chayil” and that it means strength and might? The same word, used in Judges 6:12 to refer to Gideon, is translated “mighty man of fearless courage” (AMP), “mighty man of valor” (KJV), “mighty hero” (NLT), and “valiant warrior” (NASB). What a far cry from our Cinderella-in-rags view of the Proverbs 31 woman!

There is an unmistakable military motif in Proverbs 31:10-31. This woman is a fighter! A scrapper! She is fearless and courageous. She is strong. She not only provides for her family, she fights battles on its behalf. She brings them the “rich plunder of a victorious army” all the days of her life (v. 11-12). This is an image I can get behind. It more accurately describes the fierce spirit God has put inside of me.

There is no doubt.  You are a princess, sister.  You are a daughter of the King.  So, which kind of princess are YOU? Are you the princess-in-rags just waiting to be discovered, or have you gotten in touch with your inner warrior princess? Cause, girl, you’ve got work to do! And, the work you do matters in this world! The strength with which you fight your battles will be your legacy.

Happy Mother’s Day—to ALL God’s mighty women!

To the Warrior Queen:

Mom, how can I thank you for showing me how to be a strong woman? You are the original warrior princess. You always told me I could do anything, that I was capable. Then, you showed me how. Strength didn’t always mean getting your way. In fact, you most often showed your strength in your willingness to put others first, to love with a fierceness that never lets go. You have shown us all who we truly are by believing the best in us, even when we weren’t there yet. I love watching your faith grow, listening to the things God is teaching you, and walking through this journey together. I’d thank you for raising me if I thought your task was done, but I still call on you to be my mom, and you answer excellently. There is no substitute for your influence. I can only pray that I will honor your commitment to me with my life—may it always be a sweet reminder that the work you have done has consequence.

I am infinitely excited about sharing this next adventure with you as you “retire” to Austin. We will discover together what God has planned for you and for our whole family as He continues to reveal the “whole truth” to us. Fight on, mighty woman of valor!

To My Warrior Princesses:

Caroline, how I love watching you bloom into the little girl God has made you to be! Helping you with your writing assignment on the back porch last week will go down as one of my favorite moments in time with you. I loved seeing your excitement as we played with the gift of words, twisting them to bring more meaning and life to the story you had stored up in your imagination. I dream that someday we can share this love of writing—maybe even write together for God’s glory-- but most of all, I count on us sharing the love of each other’s company. I refuse to believe that ends at age 13. When you looked at me recently while I sang Mandisa’s “Only the World” with gusto and said, “Mom, you’re a cool mom,” you touched my soul. I can only pray that you will always think so.

You are a helpful, compassionate, and insightful kid. God has good things planned for you. May you always know that I am your fiercest advocate. I will fight for you. There are many things I wish you did not have to endure that you have already suffered. A younger, less-experienced me would have grieved over that forever. But, as un-motherly as it sounds, I do not wish for you to be sheltered from suffering. For, that would make you a weak woman. Instead, I wish for you to glean every ounce of wisdom from whatever you must endure, that you may be a mighty, mighty warrior princess for the kingdom! And, you will be! May God fill you with a deep sense of purpose and joy throughout your life. May God grant you the desire of your heart since you were four—that you would be able to hear God’s voice.

Mary Claire, what a delight you are! I caught a glimpse of your warrior spirit last week when you spontaneously decided you were ready to pierce your ears. When you get your mind set on something, you do it, girl! I saw your true beauty in your bravery as you sat with a big grin on your face and giggled nervously with the guns held steadily over both ears. After it was over and a few tears were shed, your crying turned into uproarious laughter. Your next words will never leave me: “Mom, when I do something that I thought wasn’t possible it feels so good.” Yes, it does, child! And, there is no limit to what you can do when your heart is turned toward Jesus! He has made you for a purpose, and I am going to love figuring that out with you.

You are constantly making me laugh, Mary Claire. Your love for bringing joy to others and for performing dramatically is evident. I can see you acting or singing someday. Whatever you do, you will do it with gusto. Don’t ever lose that sense that you are capable of the impossible. No matter what this life throws at you, fight! You will do big things for God someday. You are already big in our family and big in our hearts.

Audrey, I cannot wait to do “normal” things with you when I get there. I still hope God lets me raise you…in a perfect place. But, until then, I can’t help but think of Revelation 13:6 when I think of you. It says that the devil opens his mouth to blaspheme God’s name, his dwelling place (Heaven), and those who live in Heaven. That’s the God you see face-to-face, the place you live, and who you are, dear one! I wish I could just be your mommy here, but apparently my new role is to fight the enemy for your honor! There are many here, sweetheart, who do not know Jesus and who don’t believe in Heaven or know what it is like. I promise to fight until many more do. I hope it makes you proud.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Behind the Curtain

About 5 weeks after Audrey died, Bryan and I traveled to New York City. It was my first trip to the Big Apple. We had planned to go well before the accident occurred. There were a lot of reasons to cancel it altogether. How could I leave Caroline and Mary Claire with someone else? How could I try to have any fun? In hindsight, I am not sure why we made the final decision to go anyway. It was terribly hard to get out of the door. But, we knew we needed the time together, and we didn’t want the devil to win. It may sound silly, but I actually thought if I changed my plans that somehow I would be setting a standard for the rest of my life. I felt like I had to decide right then and there to keep moving even though I didn’t want to breathe anymore.

That first trip to New York included some really great sights and sounds (like Rockefeller Center at Christmastime), but it was excruciatingly hard. I cried my eyes out at every major landmark and scenic overlook in the Empire State. Everything we did was shrouded in grief. In the end, we were proud of ourselves for going, but it was so sad.

That was December 2007. This last weekend, Bryan and I made our second trip together to New York City. We met two of our best friends for a spontaneous getaway. I know, it sounds extravagant. It was. Not many people get to do what we just did. I even flew home in the first class cabin. (Bryan travels weekly for work, and there are perks.)

Knowing how blessed I was to be taking off for the weekend, I anticipated lots of fun this time around. But, I also braced myself as I entered Times Square for the second time and caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty for the second time. I wanted so much to replace those wounded memories of our trip following Audrey’s death. But, I wasn’t sure how I would feel. Would I be overcome by that same sadness, conjure up the freshness of the grief?

I am grateful to say that we successfully made some new memories this weekend without dredging up too many of the old ones. It was great hanging out in such a busy, diverse city with good friends. We laughed a lot and didn’t do too much planning ahead. We took a bus tour, ate lunch in Chinatown, consumed an authentic Reuben at the Jewish delicatessen where part of “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed, browsed FAO Schwartz, shopped in Soho, and saw two fabulous Broadway shows: “Mary Poppins” and “Jersey Boys”.

One of the highlights of our trip was a unique backstage tour of the set of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. Lead actors in the musical include Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) and John Laroquette. We didn’t meet those guys, but one of our friends’ old college buddies from Baylor (Chris Hanke) also has a lead role in the musical (which plays through December). He was gracious enough to meet us at the stage door an hour before the show and give us an inside look. What a genuinely nice guy he is! He took us into his personal dressing room and we actually walked onto the stage of the quaint old theatre. Only an hour before show time, we were standing behind the curtain of a real Broadway show! How cool is that?! What a vantage point!

Behind the curtain. That one phrase really sums up my second trip to New York City. It was as if I saw New York City for the first time this weekend. It is as if I was looking at it from behind the curtain…from a whole new vantage point…with an insider’s look at what was really going on spiritually in one of the heaviest populated cities in the world. In 2007, I was reeling from the most life-changing, earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting event I had ever encountered. All I could see in New York was my own pain and loss. This time, I think I saw into God’s heart a little more. Let me explain.

While we were sitting at “Mary Poppins”, I felt immense joy as we appreciated the God-given talents of the actors and actresses, dancers, musicians, writers, directors, set designers, and costume designers. The show was innocent and had a heart-warming message. The music was infectious, and the dancing made me want to stand up and join in. The actors and actresses were hilarious. The children who played Jane and Michael Banks performed brilliantly. I was so impressed with the artistry involved in preparing the show. “What a creative God we serve!” I thought.

I had the same thought the next night as we watched “Jersey Boys”, a musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Songs like “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man” have become such a part of our shared cultural experience. Isn’t God good to give us music to share and enjoy? The actor who played Frankie Valli sounded JUST like Frankie himself. His voice was so pure—out of this world perfect. Who has falsetto like that? Not many people. God gave that man great talent. I’m so glad he shared it with Bryan and me and our friends.

I could not help but think as we sat in those theatres that Heaven is going to be so awesome! What amazing breadth and depth of creativity and talent our big God has placed in His people. I can just see us singing and dancing and painting and making sets and putting on shows in Heaven. Can’t you? I can see us all sharing with each other what we do best and enjoying what God made in and through us. Pretty cool thought.

But, seeing New York City from “behind the curtain” also meant that I became keenly aware of the evidence all around me that this world is in need of a Savior. In the midst of the wealth and the entertainment and the food and the creativity and the hard-working New Yorkers (like our newly immigrated 22-year-old pedi-cab driver from Turkmenistan), I saw the dark underbelly of the fallen world. In 2007, we were too sad to tour Ground Zero. I didn’t think I could handle it. This time, with respect and reverence, we observed with our own eyes the devastation of evil. We saw a damaged sculpture blocks and blocks away from the original Twin Towers, and I realized for the first time what it must have been like when a 100 story building collapsed in the middle of such a busy city. I still cannot believe that we were in New York City on the day we finally located Osama Bin Laden. Historic.

Ground Zero wasn’t the only evidence of the world’s ills in NYC. I saw individual people hurting, living in a lost and broken world. As we walked down the street after a show, I saw so many homeless. Many of them were mentally ill. I also saw trash cans being dumped by garbage collectors in the early morning hours. The side of the trash cans advertised fortune tellers. I saw a poster on a stairway leading to a basement establishment that advertised “Oriental beauties who perform rare love rituals”. I saw people who had too much to drink and didn’t look like they were very happy. I saw people touring the city on vacation, all the while bickering with their family members. I saw an impatient man in a cab yell angrily at a taxi operator to “do his job”, removing any shred of dignity he may have had. I saw a young woman in front of a pizza place talking on the phone crying. And, I witnessed a mother get sick and faint in a restaurant while her husband and son struggled to help her. NYC police, firemen, and EMT’s arrived to assist. They worked on her while her husband held her wobbly head and her son (who appeared to be about 11) sat across the table and cried. The waiter and an officer kept their hands on his shoulder and tried to reassure him. But, he was terrified. Eventually, the mother was whisked away to an ambulance.

I saw things this time. Really saw things, you know? I wish I didn’t. It was burdensome. But, I did. I saw people this time. Really saw them. I feel like I witnessed life from a whole different vantage point. Some of the things I saw made me want to weep uncontrollably. I felt a sudden sense of urgency and a desire to throw off EVERYTHING that hinders me from seeing things with proper perspective.

I was telling Bryan later that I was afraid to tell the folks I was with how I was really feeling…what I was really thinking. And, the folks I was with were my husband and two of our best friends in the whole world! It’s no slam to them. They would have understood if I explained it. But, I know they want to escape sometimes and have fun. I don’t want to hinder that. We were on vacation, for goodness sake! I’m also scared people will think I have not healed, that I am wallowing in my grief. But, I know with confidence that this is a healthy new place I’m not going to be able to push past. It’s my new normal. Sometimes I am not sure people are ready for the way my life has changed…on the inside. Sometimes I feel like if I told people what I was really thinking that it would be “too much”…even for other Christians. It can be pretty lonely in here.

Regardless of my petty fears and my struggles with pride, I cannot willingly shut down the Holy Spirit. I can’t do that. I cannot look at the world the same anymore! God has given me a rare and beautiful look at things from behind the curtain. I can see foretastes of Heaven—the best of God’s creation, everything He called “good”. I can see sin and its devastation—in myself, in others, in our culture. I can see how God is bringing His plan to fruition--how He is actively drawing people to Himself. I can see opportunities all around me to point others to Him. For me, the veil has been lifted between the temporal and the eternal. I SEE things now. (Mary Beth and Steven Curtis: I get it! Maria…I SEE.)

I am going to do something I haven’t done before: ask for YOUR advice. What do I do with this new way of seeing? What do I do now? I know there may be lots of people reading this and thinking, “What in the world is she talking about?” But, I also know there are many of you who have had your life-altering moment, and now, you, too, SEE. So, what do I do? How do I take my behind-the-scenes look at God’s world and use it for His glory? How do I take my new sense of urgency and turn it away from feeling weird and different and into feeling powerful and vital to the kingdom? (I can kind of answer this for myself…but I would appreciate any commentary…) What do YOU do?

Thank you to those of you who are sharing my journey…those of you who are walking alongside me, seeing things the way I see them. You lighten my load and make my path brighter. We must encourage each other (all the more as we see the Day approaching.)

Bryan: Thanks for “getting me”. You know how I love to be understood. I know I am a big mystery to you sometimes, but you do such a good job of making me feel special. I can’t wait to see how our new vantage point affects what we DO from here on out. Let’s get radical! Let’s go all out!

Kwans: Thank you for going on vacations with Bryan and me. Vacations and other outings that are “fun” for “normal” people bring out my analytical side and make me wonder what God is doing inside of me. Thank you for accepting me just as I am and for walking through grief and transformation with our family. Thank you for working so hard to make me laugh and experience true joy. And, thank you for being willing to look at the stuff other people might want to ignore. Thanks for growing with us.

Dear God, help me to be less interested in being understood than I am in understanding what you have put me here to do. I know it doesn’t have to look normal to everyone else. Help me not to care what everybody else thinks. (I hope I don’t have to pray that prayer for the rest of my life.) God, I wonder why, when the world advises me to grow a “thicker skin”, do you continue to give me a softer and softer heart? I feel naked sometimes. I’m scared of what I will see, but please keep showing me what is behind the curtain. Then, PUHHHHLEEEEEESE tell me what to do about it while I still have breath.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quit Your Flapping

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Ok, so I’ve never seen an eagle up close and personal. But, I have seen hawks. Massive hawks. Wasn’t more than an hour or two after I posted Monday’s blog that I saw them. In our neighborhood, they are a familiar sight. I am intrigued by them. Their sometimes eerie presence also conjures up images of pure freedom. I watched them soaring over roofs, skimming treetops, leaning left and right, gliding slowly lower, almost falling, and then suddenly rising as if by some invisible but powerful force. Surprised, I observed that they were not flapping their wings. Really. Those big birds were traveling large distances, moving up and down, and they were not working at it one bit! I kept watching. An occasional single flap would keep them afloat, but, for the most part, they looked as if they were resting in the sky. I was baffled.

I have never understood flight. On Thursday, I was waiting at the Austin airport to get on a big plane. My flight was delayed (6 hours!) due to some pretty severe weather on the East coast. Not like I needed another reason to be nervous about putting myself into a tin can and hurtling myself through the air at 30,000 feet. I utterly deplore it. I don’t get it. How does a plane stay in the air? A friend who is an aerospace engineer explained it to me once. I have been to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. And, I still don’t get it. It is more accurate to say that I don’t believe it! I am not afraid to die. But, I am absolutely, unequivocally afraid to fall. I don’t like the Tower of Terror at Disney World (why is it fun to pretend you are on a haunted elevator that is broken?). I will be honest. Getting on that plane required an immense amount of trust.

Have you ever thought for a minute about how very many things in life require our trust? Not only did I have to suspend disbelief that a plane that heavy could get off the ground, but I had to trust that the people who built the plane and who maintain it had done their jobs well. Every time we drive on the highway, we trust that other drivers will stay in their lanes.  Last week, I paid an electrician an exorbitant amount of money to fix a short in a breaker. I think he most certainly overcharged me for his 20 minute stint at my house. But, what do I know about the value of an electrician? All I know is that a whole wall of plugs didn’t work, and I didn’t know how to fix it. Have you ever taken your car in for a tune-up? Gotten that long list of things they just “have” to do to your vehicle before you leave? Seen the bill? How do you know they are telling you the truth? I, for one, know I don’t. I have to trust they are getting a fair wage, and I have to trust that when they put new tires on my van they did it right and those very same tires won’t just fall off three miles down the road.

As I write, I am about to get in a New York City taxi cab and travel back to the Newark airport. Talk about trust! I will be hopping into a car with a strange man I may not share a language with to go to a place with which I am completely unfamiliar. Have you seen how crazy these drivers are?! I am surprised there are not more pedestrian fatalities in NYC. The cab drivers actually speed up when they see someone crossing the street.

The list goes on. Truth is, life is just one trust exercise after another. We don’t realize it because we are conditioned to go about our business and accept the way things are. Besides, if you think about it too hard, you get paralyzed by fear.

If my life in the last few years has taught me anything, it is that we are all—each and every one--under the illusion that we have control. We claw for a sense of power because we feel too vulnerable when we realize how very little control we have over our lives. Life’s not all about me and my own success, ability, strength, striving, and plans. I am not the only variable. I have no choice but to trust.

This makes me uneasy. And, if you are honest, it makes you uneasy, too. I like to know what to expect. I want to have at least a reasonable expectation of what is going to happen. I like to think that if I try harder, work harder, and think harder that it will make a difference. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. People are not always trustworthy. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they cheat you. They are dishonest. They are weak. They cannot see into the future. People are not fully trustworthy. Things are not reliable. They break. They deteriorate. Things are not fully trustworthy.

So, how do I face my life and its uncertainties? How do I get on the plane, so to speak?

I can play the game of odds. It is very unlikely that my plane will fall out of the sky. More people die in car accidents. Look how many planes fly every day and get where they are going.

I can rely on intellect. I can go and interview my engineer friend again and get all the facts about physics…learn about lift…better grasp that it is a good thing for the wings of the plane to flex wildly in the wind so they won’t break.

I can distract myself. I can play my music, read, doodle, write, do anything and everything not to think about the ugly truth: I am not in control of the plane.

Or, as my psychiatrist suggested several years ago, I can medicate myself before a flight. I know some people need this, but my doctor suggested it even though I didn’t mention a thing about being scared to fly. She just assumed that since I was on anti-anxiety drugs already I would need more for a flight! She could not have been more wrong. I refused her oh-so-kind offer. Even if I had taken drugs to numb the jitters, I would have been ignoring my inner battle with trust.

Don’t we all ignore that inner battle with trust? At least sometimes?

This week a dear friend of mine had another heartbreaking miscarriage. I cannot begin to tell you how sad I am for her to have to walk down this path…again. I love her heart and her courage and her willingness to be shaped by her pain. She is really battling through this experience with authenticity and faith. As we sat having lunch, she told me something interesting about her grief process. Shortly after she became aware that the baby’s heartbeat had stopped, she felt a deep desire to organize her home. She made some real progress over the weekend, sorting her kids’ toys and getting things in order. She felt a great sense of accomplishment after she had put her energy into de-cluttering. It was, as I saw it, a really healthy thing for her to do with herself. But, she told me something that struck me:

“Admittedly,” she said, “I was reaching for a sense of control. I just wanted to feel like I had power over something.” How honest! And, oh, can I identify! Can’t you?

Nothing is at all wrong with what my friend did to soothe her pain. She has most certainly addressed her inner battle with trust, time and again. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t even be aware that her frenzied cleaning was an attempt to control her situation…if even just a little. But, I wonder…How many people spend a LIFETIME doing this kind of self-soothing and never explore the real source of their fear? How many people rely on self-sufficiency, the game of odds, intellect, distraction, or drugs of some kind to dull the ache of vulnerability? I fear that many wounded people are walking around still unaware that they need someone in whom they can place all of their trust—someone 100% trustworthy.

If life is truly all about trust, then it is ALL about learning to trust God. Not an easy task, my friends…even for a Christ-follower. You see, growing in trust with God is only possible as we grow in intimacy with Him. We must KNOW Him in order to trust Him. There is far too much pain in the world, far too much uncertainty, far too much that is unexplained to place our trust all nilly-willy like in a God we don’t know. So, I have no problem when people say that they don’t believe in or trust God. Of course they don’t. They don’t know Him. I wouldn’t trust Him either.

But, here’s the thing: I do know Him now. The Bible says He is near to the broken-hearted. It is so true. I have sought Him in my pain, and I have found Him. That is another promise of the Word. Those who seek Him find Him. I will be honest with you. I am not in love with God’s plan for my life. In fact, I hate a lot of what He has allowed. But, He has also given me much to be grateful for…and I cannot ignore that. I am most thankful that I am now confident of His eternal plan for those who love Him. Yes, I know Him…more every day. And, I am learning to trust Him. Psalm 91:4 says that His faithfulness is a shield. I can’t honestly explain the rest of the Psalm, but I do identify with the writer’s understanding that God’s faithfulness is his protection. I can trust God because He is faithful. I still have trouble getting on that plane. And, I don’t like feeling vulnerable any more than the next guy. But, I know now that those other methods of self-protection just don’t work. I have no choice but to trust God.

If you don’t know God intimately, may I invite you to seek out who He really is? I have found that the God of the Bible is absolutely trustworthy. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. ..even more than we already have. But, I believe that God’s plan for us and His great love for us will far outweigh the troubles we see in this life. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) As Christians, that is the truth we profess. And, it is the ONLY thing that compensates for our pain. It is the only thing that soothes our vulnerability and conquers our inner battle with trust.

You see, many people will tell you that the answer lies in being tough and smart. Only the weak need God. Only the stupid believe in Him. On the contrary! I believe with all my heart that the smartest among us…the strongest…are the ones who are the most surrendered. Look again at the eagle (ok, the hawk!). Watch how he soars. He does not grow weary or faint. He relies on the invisible power beneath him. He has quit his flapping.