Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Truth Hurts (Part I)

We appreciate your prayers.

Well, today I attempted to hop aboard the law school train again. If my posts start to appear dark, dreary, and heartless, please know that I am closing in on my career of chasing ambulances. The last week of freedom was spent at various coffee shops reading and pretending to actually drink coffee. I also managed to force Ginny into hanging out with me every waking minute by incessantly telling her that school starts soon.

My thoughts as of late have hovered around a simple enough subject- honesty. Just the dropping of the word brings back elementary flashbacks of honest Abe & cherry trees. Honesty is something pushed heavily on children. However, it rarely comes up in adult circles. The subject appears juvenile. Something we should have grasped long ago and silly to discuss. Until recently, honesty only came up if my trust was betrayed. Upon Ted Haggard-like revelations, I would gasp at the lies.

Then it all hit the fan.

You see, there was Eliot. And with him came many difficult questions from folks who cared. And this whole blog thing exposed my thoughts (admittedly, that may not always be a good thing). Early on Ginny & I felt the enticement to keep up a good face when the difficult questions came. You know, throw out the answers that come so easy and typically squelch the questioning. We felt the desire to leave a good impression on the one with whom we spoke.
We're doing good.
His will be done.
We’re hanging in there.

If we were the least bit vulnerable, there would come a tug upon us to end the sentence with a “but”, and proceed to assure that we knew in the end that all would be well. Somewhere, there is an unwritten rule in Christendom that any revelation of tough feelings or hurt must be closely followed by a warm, fuzzy about the sovereignty or goodness of God.

We made the conscious decision that we would be honest- with each other and with whomever inquired. Instead of the above, with our decision made, the answers typically required an awkward pause for thought, then such answers as:
I don’t know.
Why doesn’t God…?
We’re struggling.

Also, confessions of difficulty would hang out there, just waiting to be fixed. But I began to let them stay there. No magic fix. No smiley face sticker. Just my pain and questions.

This honesty has come with a price. I sometimes feel that my newfound honesty policy induces more cringing than toilet paper trailing behind me when I exit the bathroom. I am sure much of this is imagined. But I am just as sure that some of it is not. Let’s face it, I, myself, am not exempt from a cringe when others expose there real struggles. I’ve lived in the “I’m fine” world for quite some time- and I liked it.

Why am I afraid of this honesty? For some reason, many of us have come to believe that we carry the torch of Christianity (and we do), and that we must represent our side to the world as the super-duper-fix-you-upper. I recently got to hear a friend of mine, Donald Miller, speak- and by friend, I mean I have read his book.

He addressed this honesty problem by likening the church’s approach to an infomercial for the Magic Bullet . These commercials that promise to do it all, will only disappoint in the end. It is not our God that is the disappointment. It is the reality that He is not what the package promised.

I am guilty at times of desiring Christ to be the bullet. He’ll fix it all. However, this is not the gospel. Jesus guarantees that we will have troubles. The scriptures invite us to “join in Christ’s sufferings”. The invitation to Christianity wouldn’t sell a lick on late night.

But then again, the call is to a relationship with one whose ways are unlike ours. Where we want the Bullet, He offers His presence throughout both blessing and valleys.

So, the pain is immense. The journey is difficult. And God has not taken it from me. But, I believe He is near and will continue to draw me to a deeper understanding of who He is through it all…honestly.

19 comments:

Cary Murphy said...

I know that many have been appreciative of your honesty. I've learned so much and have been challenged so much because of it. I continue to pray for you guys, love you, and miss you, all of the time.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even Christian and I can relate to this. I think all people could learn a LOT from your son's life.

Lisa said...

Honesty....that's the thing, sometimes the truth is not so pretty. I certainly do not expect you to put on a happy face, even though I completely understand the "need" to do so. I have done it myself and I am not really sure why.

Hopefully, you expressing yourself through this blog is helping you deal and cope with the terrible lose of Eliot! While here, HE WAS IN THE BEST PLACE! I have said many times, "God sure knew what he was doing when he hand picked you as parents" to his extrodianary life.

I am sure most of us would wonder what was wrong with you if you constantly "put on the happy face" even though we are all programmed to do that from a very young age. Thank you for your honesty to us in the cyber world. When we hear the truth, it gives us a better idea of what to pray for when praying for the two of you =)

Prayers still coming from Texas...

Lisa Hartsfield
Arlington, TX

Anonymous said...

Matt,

I am a friend of Cliff and Nichole's from Memphis and have been reading your blog for a few months now. I think what drew me was my tremendous respect/appreciation of your honesty and pursuit of God through this painful time. I can relate to having to make the decision to be honest or 'fake it' during a time when my marriage was falling apart in it's second year (God has restored what the locust had eaten AND it was the most traumatic time of my life). I too have cringed at pulling the blinders away and looking at and feeling things for what they really are. At times I want to crawl back into the cave of 'everything is okay' and want to ask others to join me. BUT, I have experienced God and fellowship with His believers in ways that I never thought possible through honesty.

What I hear you saying in this last posting was a call to believers to go deeper and also count the cost. I feel united in this with you and mostly want to let you know that I am pursuing honesty along side of you. I have read Donald Miller and others who seem to be making the same call. My sense is that God may bring revival through believers being real and actually being the body of Christ to each other and to the outside world. I am ready...

Keep going brother!!

In Him,
Mackenzi

jan margrave said...

even Jesus in His darkest hour asked "Why?". those of us who have experienced dark days and painful struggles expect nothing more from you than brutal, painful honesty. that is where you are. BE where you are. for now.

Heaven Sent said...

I can totally understand what you are saying. We are all guilty of ending with a warm fuzzy. That is an amazing truth I never really thought about until now.

Your honesty is truly inspiring. I too hope this blog is becoming a good outlet for you. Sometimes we just need to cry -- and we don't want the hug. We just want to cry. And that is MORE than okay.

Praying!

joy said...

It is very brave to live in honesty. Instead of pushing the feelings deeper inside, you are truly living. I, for one, appreciate your honesty and am blessed by your blogs.

FunkyMonkeyJunk said...

Matt,

It is your honesty that attracted me to continue reading your blog. I found your site when I lost my second pregnancy. I was devastated in a way I've never been devastated. You see, I got pregnant (when I've struggled with infertility for years) right when we had "given up" and started the adoption process. The surprise and elation turned to the devastation when we lost the baby mere weeks later. A cruel trick I thought. A terrible, terrible cruel trick. I attempted the "I'm fine" answer for awhile, but it didn't take long for me to realize it wasn't working. It prevented me from healing, it prevented others the opportunity to minister to me, and it prevented God's ultimate glory coming from my pain. It was through your blog that basically "gave me permission" to be open and honest about where I was. A really ugly place.

Thank you for doing that Matt. I cannot understand the exact feelings you're experiencing, but I CAN understand the facade we put up for display. There is nothing biblical about it that I can find. And that my friend, is a relief. You have our permission to stay where you're at (in pain) for as long as you need to. HE will heal you, but can only do that if you are honest about it.

You and Ginny are still prayed over on a regular basis. Please know that.

Andi

flakymn said...

I have struggled with this throughout our infertility journey on my blog. In the end, I think it is imoprtant that people don't see Christianity as some chasm of flowers. Life is hard. The part that they want to see is that through it all, even we are FAITHLESS, He is FAITHFUL. They want to see that while we may have doubts, in the end, we come to a place of trust ... somehow, someway.

I can relate to this perfectly. Blessings!

Katy said...

Good luck starting school! I don't envy the school party but I envy the "doing something potentially great with your life" part.

Honesty. Why is it so hard most of the time? I'm trying to live my life that way too. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement.

amy said...

Hey Matt,
I doubt seriously that you will be chasing ambulances in any part of your future! From the little that I have seen, there hasn't been anything that you have done in your life that you have chosen to do that hasn't had an eternal purpose. If you choose to chase ambulances, then I will just have to choose to believe that you are running after the people's souls who are inside of them. Your honesty is raw and passionate. How refreshing to see you admit where you are. You've probably heard people (myself included) that this is just one of the stages of grief that you and ginny will move through. Who knows for how long or how deep it will be. Grieving for Amanda took a long time, longer than I ever thought it would, and I wasn't near as honest with myself and others as you guys have been. One day I realized that I had made it through to a different place without really knowing that I was headed there. Still a sad place, but a different place. You'll know when you get there. And we'll all be there too, because we are walking (and reading) this path with you and ginny. The world of lost hurting people needs to know that just because you are a Christian does not mean that gut wrenching hurt won't happen. Lost people need to see us hurt and see us heal and see the relationship that is building with the Healer. It's never a quick fix. The best and strongest relationships are built through time and experience. In sharing your heart, you are showing those who are lost, and those who are hurting, and those who are not lost and hurting but probably will be at some future time, that there is hope for a future and hope for prosperity in an eternal world with our Father, God. You're showing it because it is being shown to you, painfully, one experience at a time. The relationship that you are building with Him and sharing with the world (literally) is evidence of that fact. It's real, it's not always pretty, it's your heart, and also HIS. Thank you for your honesty.

Love,

Aunt Amy

Ivey Elizabeth Sirmans said...

Honesty is tricky. Our situations are different, but very much the same. We have been permitted more time with our daughter, but each day is wonderful and full of pain all at the same time. I will one day walk in your shoes. Unwillingly. My daughter will not live a long life. However, she will lead a full life. So did Eliot. And your life will never be the same. But would you want it to be? Even at this great cost? I can honestly say that I will endure the pain - she is worth it. I read your blog, but a friend made sure that I read this post. Honesty has been tough. People constantly want to know, but don't know what to do when they hear the honest truth. Often on Ivey's blog, I guess I let out too much of the truth for some to handle of accept. It has created waves amongst our family at times. Members of the family think we should keep it 'quite'. My husband, Matt, and I feel there is nothing to hide. It is our life. It is okay to speak of rolling over and first steps, but not ok to speak of the milestones not occurring. Ivey is blind. She was born without eyes. That is who she is not amount of fluffing can change the dynamics of it. I guess I am venting on you. Most do not understand the pain. Most do not understand the fear. Honesty is hard. I accept many months ago that God never promised me an easy life. But boy has he given me life, in many forms. And at the end of Ivey's life, it will be real. And at the end of my own life, I will know that I have lived with both eyes open. You and Ginny too. Always thinking of you, eventhough I don't often post.

one smarmy mama said...

I have to say...

Sometimes we cringe at honesty because we don't truly care. But I know I truly care about you guys.....so the honesty, at least here, was always welcome. I bet your real life friends think the same thing.

Kim said...

Honesty is important...you have displayed an honesty that helps all of us see your true need as we pray for you.

Even though trusting in God is out of our obedience to Him...and giving Him glory for everything that happens to us is what we desire to do,it does not mean we won't feel things and hurt. It is okay.


Thank You!
Kim

LCRsMom said...

Matt,

Your honesty is accepted and understood. You have however, taken this pain and made something of it - sharing it and teaching those who read it that life isn't always so easy. It's hard, it's heartbreaking, it hurts at times...sometimes a long time.

Lots of love to you and Ginny,

Sarah

Jackie R. said...

I came through your blog through a long route and have just read of your whole wonderful and painful journey... thank you for your sharing and THANK YOU for your authenticity. It is really what we all need (those who are Christians and those who aren't). The real stuff of life with no sugar coating. You have both (well all 3!) given much inspiration and learning through your authenticity. Press on. Thank you for sharing Eliot with all of us. - Jackie from Denver

Anonymous said...

Matt,

You're in a good place, honestly. A place of light and salt. He will meet you there, because He lives there.

It's a place where the "oil and wine" of healing is poured out too.

Thanks for sharing.

Love you guys,
Dwayne & Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

Matt,
I don't have any fancy words to share, but i wanted to take a second to say that i truly appreciated your post. I am often frustrated with the "everything is fine" approach that we as Chrisitans have and am glad that other Christians are seeing the freedom that God can give us in our honesty and will be striving to be "real." we still think of you and ginny on a daily basis.

amy teague

Becky said...

Matt & Gin, I think being honest forces us to ask questions of God, which He often doesn't answer. And yet when all we're hearing is the sound of the crickets in the deafening silence, He honors us with His Presence. God is even in the blank stare of the cringer, because He rewards us when we get down to the business of mourning...when we can't comfort ourselves any longer. But I have a feeling y'all know this.

I love you both! Eliot is on my mind.

love, Becky Page