Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Joy from Brokenness

Life never spins quite the way we expect it to.

I planned this post about 12 days ago. I hadn't written a word - just as well. I thought it'd be about the joy of experiencing healing from pain.

Then 20 first graders were murdered while playing in school and the world turned upsidedown.
Joy? Out of that brokenness? What poor taste!
Or is it?

What good can come out of something so heinous as children being murdered in cold blood for a reason we still don't know. As if there could be a reason.

Joy? First, brokenness.

How broken was this man who carried the guns into Sandy Hook Elementry School last Friday? How broken were the Innocents, gunned down in their childhood? How broken their parents now, and the loved ones of the teachers at the Newton Connecticut school? Broken. We're all broken.

We lead broken lives. The breaking starts at birth. It is magnified as we grow up. Perhaps at some time in our lives we discover our brokenness and find hope. We learn that healing is possible and our lives can be restored, rescued; we can salvage the life that was intended for us from the time of our conception.

But the brokenness continues unless it is surrendered to the One who was broken for us all. Even then it is a journey to recovery - to recover what we were born into but lost because the world is lost and we in it are lost too.

The man with the gun was lost. When and how it took shape we don't yet know. But he killed his mother at that school on Friday morning and 20 innocent children too, before he killed himself. Did he know he was broken? Did he know he could be healed?

Do you know you are broken? Do you know you can be healed?

The reason I write is to keep my pain on the surface, where it can be cleaned and scrubbed; where layer-by-layer it can be exposed and released and overcome. I write, to cleanse me from the inside out. And I wash. Of course there's the literal - I shower. But sometimes the shower of a Holy Spirit covers me in healing water that cleanses me of guilt, shame, pain, and restores me from the outside in. Both inside out and outside in - I need them both to find healing from the brokenness.

Usually, the pain we feel is mercifully less intense than the pain a parent experiences in losing a precious child. But pain it is - big or small - and it effects our lives. And it effects every life around us.

How does the rest of humanity deal with pain? Pain: we all share in it, sometimes create it, and yet we hide it as though we are the only ones who know it intimately. Like an unwanted relative or untimely guest we put up with it, are embarrassed by it, tolerate it but never appreciate it. We live as though there is something shameful about pain, about admitting we have it; it's something we all have but live as though we haven't got it at all...

Then a twenty year old man enters a school and destroys 26 - 27 - 28 lives, and the lives of all those who love them are damaged perhaps forever. Then we have permission. Then the pain is put onto the surface and there is no shame. The healing will take a long time. And we're told that's okay. For some the healing will seem forever in coming. But when the healing does come there is joy. There has to be. The contrast exists to mark the differences in our lives. The differences must exist so that we can feel, know, experience life.

For those of us who have noone involved in Connecticut, we have our own memories, our own tragic losses, our own unhealed pain whose memories are triggered by the Connecticut tragedy.

So tears flow - tears of immense pain and suffering - to mark the unimaginable agony that tragedy exposes.

And then, in time, hope returns.

Exhaustion comes and brings with it relief. Knowing that the tragedy is passed, and that we must look forward, look to the hope that is in the other children that survived, in the babies being born, in the discoveries being made, in life as it ebbs and flows and never ends, not really; this is what helps us to move on.

If we lived in a world with no pain, would there, could there be joy?

I don't know.

Pain like this is too great to be born in silence or in solitude. It is beyond our imaginings and so we make no sense of it and there is nothing trite to offer as solace. Who can come alongside a mother who has lost her little boy to a man who was once a little boy... with ideas and dreams and excitement, just like the little boy he killed. Just like the twenty children he killed. One child for each year of his own life. Is that what he was counting?

Did he hate his life so much that he wanted to kill for each year he lived?

But to think this way pulls us back into the tragedy.
Perhaps that is part of the healing process.. .from outside, to inside and back to the outside of it again.

Joy from brokenness must come. Else we despair pointlessly. Mankind is resiliant, and must be. For tragedy will come again, and again we must overcome it. The human spirit must press on. It must. It must.

What happened in Connecticut is such a horrible event that it will be a long time before any light can shine out from it. But in the meantime, tragedy offers hope for a deeper intimacy with our fellow man, a greater appreciation for children, a more profound respect for the brokenness that is in us all.

The cycle of pain to healing is not yet finished. Joy from brokenness is a process. I like to promote the process and celebrate the intimacy that comes when pain is admitted and shared. Amidst this tragedy then, like any other before, there is hope that humanity will reach out a hand to console, just as God reached down His hand to us when he gave up his son, Jesus, to heal us from our brokenness.

I am grateful for His hand. At times like this I pray our hands will reach out to one another from sorrow to surrender, from despair to hope.

So how shall we live wisely? Shall we enjoy the moments we have together, savour the Saviour and trust in his ultimate victory over the darkness? To me, there is no other way.

So in this Season, amidst the activity and holidays, the thoughts of the Christ child and your own family, take the long view: be grateful for what you have and find joy in that. That's what I try to do every day.

(next scheduled blog post: Thursday 3rd January, 2013 - Happy New Year!)

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