Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Bumpy Journey

In our local paper this week, there was a column by a local writer.  It was quite enjoyable and funny as it described driving on our city streets.  The column was called "Pothole Purgatory" where the writer described three moves in this game "pothole purgatory".  There was the swerve and avoid manoeuver.  There was the straddle manoeuver.  There was also the hit and sink manoeuver.  As it is the season for potholes, our roads are much worse this year than other years.  It makes for a slow and bumpy drive down some of the roads where the potholes are the width of the entire street.  There's no choice but to slow right down and bump through the series of holes in the street.

As I drove around this week, it reminded me of how bumpy our journey through life can be.  Just like driving the van through the potholes because they are unavoidable, I have to slow down as I am forced to go through the bumpy stretch of life.  Some of these potholes of life really feel like they could swallow me up whole!  This is when I have to make sure that I am well rested so that I have the mental energy to focus, be patient and carry on.  When the road of life is so bumpy that it feels like I'm being swallowed up whole, like when I had lymphoma, I also make more time for quiet reflection, prayer and meditation.  It helps!!  If nothing else, it calms my fears and anxieties.  Praying also lets me share my burden with my God.  I feel like I'm not walking through these major foot deep potholes alone.  That God is with me, holding my hand and helping to guide me around the biggest craters. As I reflect on this picture, I also wonder if God perhaps picks me up and carries me over the potholes of life that devour the whole road.  How comforting that image is!

An earlier reading that I encountered this week, talked about Mary (the mother of Jesus) and how she accepted God's plan.  As it is Lent, I reflected on how it must have felt for Mary as a mother to watch her son push the boundaries of people's accepted norms of the time.  She must have been filled with anxiety and fear as Jesus challenged the "accepted order".  And then when Jesus was arrested, how Mary must have cried!  Knowing that her son was going to be beaten and abused at best, must have torn her apart inside.   I can only imagine the inner pain Mary must have felt!  As a mother, I think I would feel my heart breaking.  I would think that I would have sleepless nights as I worried about my child's safety.  I can imagine I would have a tight ball of fear inside as I watched the week's events unfold.  Seeing my child arrested, judged, ridiculed, starved, beaten and made to parade in front of everyone as he carried dragged his instrument of death to the hill, would hurt so deeply.  And I can imagine that I would only be able to stand by and watch as my child's activities and actions had brought him to the very bottom of this "pothole".  How sad and weary Mary must have felt as she watched her son hanging on the cross, dying a slow and painful death.

But then I thought of how when Mary was pregnant with the Son of God and knew that this baby inside her was the Son of God, she must have had a very deep belief and relationship with God.  I imagine that relationship with God carried her through the many years of "rabble rousing" that her son participated in.  Mary, as a mother most likely felt everything very deeply as a human mother, must have had a deep and living relationship with God.  I think this would have carried her through the very darkest days of seeing her son die on the cross.

This is the type of relationship I strive to have with my God.  Where God is beside me, holding me, comforting me and helping me through the darkest days of my journey through the potholes of life.  I've experienced some of this as God walked beside me when I was a child, teenager and young adult while I was teased, ridiculed and physically bullied.  I think the term now is "swarmed".  I still remember the bruises, physical aches and pains as well as the hidden emotional wounds.  God always helped me to continue on.  Sometimes I was aware of this "being" walking with me and other times I was too young to intuitively feel the presence of God.  I definitely know that God walked with me and carried me while I went through my bout with lymphoma.  I also feel God's presence with me as I run into stressful situations that occur now.  I was once asked, how do you manage to stay so positive through the various situations?  I see and feel God is with me when I see beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  I know that God is surrounding me when the birds come to visit my bird feeder as they sing and chatter.  Even watching the wild waves on the lake near my home, I feel the force of God.  I know that God journeys along beside me which gives me some peace.  Do I still have fear and anxiety for my children.  Absolutely!  Especially as I watch them make choices in their own journeys of life.  My husband and I have tried to teach and guide them when they were younger.  We still offer advice and guidance but we realize that our children are their own beings and growing into young adults to make their own choices.  As a mother who cares deeply, I worry about them.  I then turn my worry over to God.

I was given a poem that I have found very comforting.  It is an old poem but I'd like to share it.  It's called "What God Hath Promised".

God hath not promised skies always blue.
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through,
God hath not promised sun without rain.
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe.
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide.
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest after labour, light for our way,
Grace for all trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

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