Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My Vote's for Half Full.

Thanks for the feedback on last week’s information. We continue to gather information about special needs and get more excited with each step forward. Input from the blog-world is what originally pointed our hearts in such a direction. Thank you.

Ginny had the opportunity to share Eliot’s life & lessons with a women’s group this week. She vetoed my being the only male in attendance; such opportunities continue to reveal to us how difficult it can be to even begin to convey what the Lord has done. But we continue to try to do just that.

Our experience has allowed us to witness the gamut of responses that persons illicit upon news of tragedy. We ourselves, have responded a variety of ways at different times; one day so convinced, and the next not sure of anything. If we have gathered something from grief, it would be that such is wildly unpredictable, not following script or template.

Many a reaction centers on the question of why? Implying a larger theme often uttered, even if only whispered within our heads.
Why is there so much bad? So much heartache?

This question comes naturally enough. However, I have recently been pouring over pictures and video of Eliot (more than usual); I remembered a ritual in which Ginny and I would often participate. As was not unusual, we would just stare at Eliot, attempting to take him in, attempting to savor his presence, acknowledging the urgency of such an exercise. Now, this was all unspoken between us, but we both knew what we were doing.

At a point in this exchange, one of us would often say something to the effect of:
“Look at him. He doesn’t know he’s sick. Look at how beautiful he is.
Look at all that is right.”

It was true. There was so much right about him.

One chromosome somewhere along the way had gone wrong. That eighteenth chromosome had placed information in each cell of his tiny body that was error. The list of problems he was born with was horrifying. The medical description was, “not compatible with life”. Our description was beautiful.

It is just such a revelation that makes me think we have the question upside down. I am left to ask:
Why is there so much good?
It is only my familiar experience of joy that allows me to question when pain comes. Otherwise, pain would be all I have ever known and could never surprise.

Philip Yancey’s commentary on Chesterton’s Orthodoxy puts it this way:
Evil’s greatest triumph may be its success in portraying religion as an enemy of pleasure when, in fact, all things we enjoy are the inventions of a Creator who lavished them on the world.

Chesterton portrays all of our interactions with pleasure as sacred remnants of a day gone by- a time before the fall.

Why is so much right with the world? A beautiful sunset. A laugh shared with friends. The taste of chocolate. The act of sex. Pleasure, joy, and beauty are here. Their presence invites perception; while not as obvious as the injustices, the good is right there beside them.

The good and bad side by side. I pray that I would see them both. Acknowledging the bad, and believing in the good.

Truly, our message as believers is one that is two-sided.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.
(II Cor 2)

If I only lament my son, I have not accurately remembered his life. Joy and pain, good and bad. I place my hope in the source of all that was good.


Lacey said...

I have been reading for your blog for quite some time now. Sometimes I comment, most of the time I just ponder what I've read. It's all very amazing. Eliot's life, you & your wife, the lessons learned, your way with words. I understand this struggle between the beauty & the pain. Thanks for putting it into words.

Anonymous said...

You make me think. You challenge my faith. Thank you for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

i wasn't really following this post until you said the act of sex and then it all became so clear.

Anonymous said...

You have, again, touched the very depth of my heart and soul today.
Your definition of grief being so unpredictable is so true. Although losing a spouse is nothing compared to losing a child, there are times when I can joyfully delve into my memory box and enjoy and times when it is just too painful. So many questions but our God is right beside us every step of the way and I am so thankful for his grace. I'm excited about your projects and look forward to seeing them come to fuition. Love to you and Ginny, Judie

Suzi said...

Today, I spent much of the morning wrestling with the Lord about how much suffering there is. Just in my small community there are cancer diagnoses, difficult relationships, dying parents and the list could go on. I was unable to turn suffering over and see joy. My prayer this morning was one word, "Jesus." He heard me. He had you write a message, send it at a pre-ordained time to speak hope to me.

"My cup overflows,surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Today you words have comforted me with the comfort you have received.

Thank you...

Sara Terral said...

Beautifully said, Matt. Your words continue to inspire ... your little Eliot was quite the trooper, and we are all much the richer for having been able to share this experience with you all. Congratulations on your plans to share Eliot's story and to offer yourselves up in service to other parents who are also struggling with their little ones with disabilities. I'd love to serve as a resource for you both and would be happy to answer any questions you have. These parents so desperately need a break sometimes, and the 2 of you are filling a critical role in ministering to others and comforting as you are being comforted. Thank you for your honesty and for your willingness to see the "rainbows" beyond the clouds.


Collin and Stephanie Poage said...

Praise God for prompting you and Ginny to want to do something so wonderful out of such pain. I pray that He will bless you each step of the way as you learn how to build this center you're dreaming of now.

Can I ask something else? Would you prayerfully consider the option of writing a devotional book?

As I read the comments listed here, it seems I'm not alone in the fact that I often visit your blog almost as a "daily devotional." Truth be told, this blog has inspired me (in more ways than I know) to get back to where I need to be... The devo-book is just a thought, but it's clear that you have a God-given talent for writing. Blessings to you and Ginny.

Dallas, TX

Mrs. Olivia said...

Yea!!!! I have always been accused of thinking the glass is half full when everyone else thinks it's empty-Now I have fellow "good" seekers-You and Ginny have epitomized one of the few absolutes I know about life- That your attitude is most of the journey-Continue to look for good- Your words have been a pleasant reminder since last summer to rejoice, appreciate, love, and serve all the thing that we take for granted- I still wonder why, but i know He has the answer- Have a great day- enjoy the promise of renewal that is bursting with springtime- Take care- love and prayers, Mrs. Olivia

FunkyMonkeyJunk said...

I've gone through some periods of life where I was a half-glass-empty kind of person. And it dawned on me at one point (don't ask where, as I cannot remember), that I can CHOOSE to be a half-glass-full kind of person. As much pain as we go through in this life we can CHOOSE to see the beauty. We can CHOOSE to experience and BE the blessing. Like love, an attitude is not an emotion, but a choice we make. Thank you for reminding me as I struggle with some things right now, to be the positive person that God created me to be.

Athena said...

Beautifully said. WE lost our son as well, Alex was a beautiful boy, who God had chosen us to take care of. Alex had Trisomy 21 and OEIS, Only the 3rd reported case in the world, now, in the medical books forever, Alex will help others know about his illness. It makes me wonder how many others have been like this and tossed to the wind?! The short 17 minutes he lived and the 38 weeks I had the privilege of carrying him, has made our faith stronger and through our story has encouraged others, as God had intended. Your story has encouraged me too. We know not what plans the Lord has for us, but I know that in the end it will be worth it all! Thank you for sharing Eliot's life with us. He was a beautiful boy. May God bless you and keep you!