Imperfection & Loss from our book Curious Journey
I don’t really want to write this part, but it would be unfair of me not to include it inasmuch as my curious journey, like yours, has contained its share of disappointments. Perhaps being an oldest I have felt greater compulsion to fix things that don’t go quite right. I call this older brother syndrome. There MUST always be a solution.
When my youngest brother died at the age of 19 in a car accident, my ideas about life, God, and what was fair were deeply challenged. When our youngest son was diagnosed with multiple heart defects and had to undergo two dangerous surgeries by the time he was 18 months, my wife’s and my beliefs were sifted in very painful ways. When my only daughter’s boyfriend of her college years took his own life, deserted my little girl, and left her in a pool of agony, I think I had come to the point where “fixing it” was just not where I was able to live my life any longer. And when her firstborn daughter, Rebekah, died only hours after she was born, I finally got it. There are just too many things in life I cannot make right or avoid.
Each of these heartbreaking events drove me to places I didn’t want to go, and each time the Voice told me things I didn’t know. As He dealt suffering into my life, He continued to open my eyes to His world: a world where suffering could bring redemption and a rescued and flourishing life.
You and I could recount many stories of imperfection. The times we have let others down or hurt them (intentionally or unintentionally). Times we have been discounted, hurt, swindled, and even attacked. There are basically three directions we can go with hurt and pain. 1) We can become embittered, 2) we can construct a labyrinth of denial, or 3) we can wrestle with the absolute monster of forgiveness and come out the other end of the battle at peace. Peace in the knowledge that justice belongs to God, getting even is a trap, and imperfection is not unique to my life alone. It is a sad part of the fallen world in which we live.
We are, for the most part, unsteady travelers of sorts. We put on a good face, choosing to confidently size up our lives and push forward. We do so through the good times and the bad. Yet there are nagging questions at the edges of our minds: Is my life counting for something? Am I finding significance? Will I be missed when life is finished with me? Through questions like these, I have experienced connection with the Living God who has disciplined, stretched, and comforted me. Imperfection has become my friend as deep strength has often been resurrected out of my human weakness. It is the sheer imperfection and uncertainty of life which pushes me to places I simply would not go on my own initiative.
I have taken part in a funeral of a 16 year old girl who grew up intertwined with our lives. This seemingly senseless death (she was broad-sided by a fire truck as she was going to a mall) has touched thousands of lives as we all attempted to sort through our loss of Erika. No one chooses tragedy. No one. And yet God uses loss and imperfection as a door into this uncertain place. The angry ask “Why would a loving Creator allow such unjust sadness?” The fearful ask “How can I possibly feel safe from this kind of tragedy happening to me or to someone I love?” The hurt ask “How am I supposed to go on while carrying this kind of pain?” There are also those who live in denial about tragedy, life and death, and pain and suffering. Each are ways of dealing with our personal grief.
In times like these we can walk bravely through the door of suffering and imperfection and find the heart of God or we can shut down. We can also embrace denial and detach from these bigger questions. My tentative, reluctant walk through the door of suffering has served my soul well each time. I’m actually not sure I have become any braver, just more informed about substance.
Perhaps you have had your share of disappointment. Someone who should have known better may have exposed you. A disingenuous friend let you down and hurt you deeply. Or your dreams have been cut down to size by the reality of this imperfect world. All are part of living in a harsh environment which are exactly the circumstances which either harden us into a protective shell or cause us to reach out for rescue.
Perhaps it was the consumptive-paced nature of my early years which accelerated my recognition that I needed to be rescued. Or just God being gracious. Either way I have found freedom in the midst of imperfection. Though I regret some of the circumstances of my life, I have found peace through authentic faith. I long for you to experience this same freedom.
Why things are the way they are is one of the great questions of life. How has my heart coped with the troubles I was born into? In what ways have I experienced personal peace and a satisfied mind?
Powerful design, being graciously seen, awakening to my purpose, sweeping wonder, and fine-tuned beauty help reconcile me to the idea of transcendence. This leads me to bend the knee of my heart to Someone Greater and trust Him with all I am.
√ In what ways have your troubles made you stronger?
√ Where has Jesus showed up and rescued you?
√ Do you feel God has the right to give and take away? (Job 1:21)
We find comfort in these words of Jesus: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Suffering and hoping with you,
Dave and Burnadette