Sunday, June 13, 2010

Father's Day (that's Father with a capitol F)

Blogger John Shore says: “We spend the first years of our lives utterly dependent upon our parents … If they don’t choose to give us what we need, we perish…And so children born to crappy parents do virtually the only thing they can do, which is to…convince themselves that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, their parents really are good, caring people who really do love them.”

Isn’t that the truth? It comes down to the survival instinct. You convince yourself that they are the source of peace (despite all the yelling), they are your source of strength and confidence. You are able to go out in the big scary world because you have parents who love you and built you up and made you who you are. And you have faith in them.

And as an adult, when you finally peel back the bandage to look at the scar, voila! The truth is so inescapable, you might just fall into depression, flounder in thoughts of worthlessness—if not thoughts of suicide. And so you do the only thing you can do: rather than admit the truth to yourself, you ever so gently, quietly, push your canoe away from their canoe—trying not to make too many ripples lest you rock their boat. And when you’re far enough away, you start to pretend they don’t exist. I mean they exist, but out of sight, out of mind. Occasional uncomfortable dinners and forced cheery phone calls.

But when someone, say your sister or your friend asks why you don’t have a relationship with your parents, you have to come up with THE REASON. You can’t just admit they were actually just this side of baby-eaters and if you stood too close, they would devour you alive—metaphorically speaking. So you instead ponder the question with a thoughtful crook of the eyebrows and the more you ponder the more you start to question yourself and the more you question yourself the more guilt you stir up and the more guilt you stir up the harder it gets to look yourself in the mirror.

But then it hits you: they really were crappy! My father bolted and never looked back and my mother married a man who mentally and physically abused my sisters and I. And she stuck with him out of selfishness—he was a paycheck. I should hate them all.

But all that pales—dims to absolute insignificance in light of one fact: God is my True Father. God is my strength. My peace and confidence and resiliency. And when I lack those—which I do, even if I hate to admit it—I have the ultimate gift of a parent: I can fall back into the arms of my Father and listen to Him remind me that I am His beloved child.

And happily, because God sacrificed His Son, my parents' sins are forgiven along with mine. And because of that sacrifice, my forgiveness of my parents actually means something. It has Power. And because of that Power, I don't hate my parents.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Star Fall, A Phone Call...Synchronicity

God sometimes uses synchronicity to speak to me. I remember several years ago when we were scrambling to get ready to sell our “lil’ squirrel feeder” at the Minnesota State Fair and I was letting the production of 1100 Squngees get in the way of pretty much everything else. including God.

I had started a bible study with a friend two weeks earlier and the “homework” for the next day’s get together was to read Colossians 1:16. But I kept putting it off while I fabricated and packaged and boxed up Squngee after Squngee. It was well after midnight when I finally called it a day, and as I brushed my teeth, I again thought of the scripture I was supposed to read (and had promised God I would read before I went to bed.)

I’ll read it first thing in the morning, I told myself as I entered the dark bedroom. My eyes fell on the digital clock which told me it was 1:16 AM. Yes, 1:16. And yes, I sat down right then and read Collosians 1:16! (For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.)

Once upon a time I decided to try, strictly for fun, writing a screenplay based on the rock band Rush’s musical suite “2112”. A favorite of mine since I was 16, the song tells the story of a dystopian society in the future where creativity is banned. About halfway through my exercise, deciding it was shaping up pretty good, I thought I would attempt to actually get the rights from Rush to take this to completion. I wrote a letter, prepared a synopsis, and included the first twenty pages. And. For all intents and purposes, never heard back from the band’s management company.

One day, while visiting the blog of one of my favorite authors (winner of the Newberry Medal among many other awards, also authored several screenplays for popular movies, as well as graphic novels, etc.) I decided to email him with a request for any suggestions on how to light a fire on the Rush management company. His response was simple (and paraphrased here): “If they don’t seem interested, turn the theme into your own story and pursue that.”

So I did. It is far, far removed from 2112—no electric guitars or spaceships—but the theme of a discontented artist chafing under the oppression of laws against creativity came to life in my own story. Even better, it starred a V.I.P.: Jesus Christ.

What this has to do with apparent coincidences is this: I eventually sent out queries to several (many) literary agents trying to interest them in repping my novel. I received numerous rejections, some cut and paste, a few with words of encouragement. But I finally drummed up the courage and queried the agent of the aforementioned favorite author. Two days later, I received an email asking for the full manuscript to review! It was my first “request for manuscript”.

I’m fully aware this is just another baby step, but it’s a baby step in the right direction. And how cool would it be to be repped by the agent of the author who helped shape the story?

Happily for me, I don’t believe in coincidences!

Here’s one final “synchronous occurrence of events”: Yesterday I received a (very encouraging) comment on this blog from a Pastor SCOTT Sheets, who is the author of a book ("Daniel and the Sea Serpent”). It just so happens that my wife "Liked" a FaceBook page for that very book the very same day! The fact that he ministers in North Dakota--where my wife is from--is an interesting “coincidence”. Pastor Scott and his wife are trying to raise money to help offset the costs of an adoption they are pursuing. Coincidentally (wink, wink) Minda and I recently felt urged to help another couple down the street from our new home with the same issue.

I can only surmise that God is encouraging me to get to know this "other Scott" who is an author and Believer and loves his wife and children.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Crying Jesus' Tears

I was listening to KTIS radio on my way to work last week and less than a hundred yards from the parking lot, the station took a call from a woman who was asking for prayer. She didn't specify why, but the more she talked, the more she cried. By the time I was turning in the parking lot, she had totally lost it. As had I.

I couldn't explain why, but by the time I parked I was crying like a baby. Not a man's hidden, sheepish tears like I occasionally do at tearjerker movies. I was blubbering. I even called Minda thinking she could help me calm down before I went in to work. By the time she answered, I had settled a bit and we talked and laughed a little, then I went to work with that wonderful feeling of clean eyes that tears always bring.

It was a week later that I made the connection to that crying jag and the message I feel God has been whispering to me of late: Live in the moment. Like a child. No regrets about yesterday or ten minutes ago, no worries about tomorrow or later this afternoon. Live in the moment.

I wake every morning desperate to smell the fresh morning air--I call it God's morning breath. And it is that moment that I remind myself that God is in charge of my life. Yesterday I watched the clouds roll across the sky--something I haven't done in decades!--and thanked God for the moment of quiet connection to Him. I believe the crying fit of last week was a moment of connection to another child of God's pain. And for a moment I felt that pain. And Jesus in me wept.

Thank you Father God, for the monents of my life.