One week ago today, a bright ray of light cut through my various shades of darkness, even my various shades of lightness. My heart felt as though it was being crushed by the weight of years of disappointment, my tears flowed down my cheeks like a child being scolded by the father who hung the moon. I could barely look up at all hundred or so of those people around me when they rooted on all those who chose to commit their faith to The Lord Jesus Christ. And for once in my life, with all those people around me, I walked past the few seats to the right of me toward the aisle, taken up by Fear, Anxiety, and Embarrassment (at least I’m pretty sure that’s what the last one’s name is, I’m still trying to figure myself out), took a deep breath and turned toward the front of the church, listened to the congregation cheer me on for reaffirming my faith in Jesus Christ, and proudly proclaimed it.
Then, one of the faith volunteer people took me in the back and we said a prayer and we talked and it was really cool. Anyway, the point of that story was to tell you this…last Sunday morning, before deciding to go to church, our life was a crap shoot.
Just to catch you up…my wife and I were taking a five-day trip out to Arizona to look for a place to live because we no longer wish to live in Michigan. We planned on looking at many places, so as to not limit our options, so we started looking right away after getting our rental car. We didn’t like the first house, were having trouble finding the next house and then happened upon a certain complex that we saw out of nowhere. We liked the place so much that we put in our applications and with little hesitation from my wife, some hesitation from myself, decided to call off our search for a place to live and have a vacation instead.
We loved the area, we loved the school for our daughter, we loved our trip to the Superstition Mountains, we loved our trip up to Sedona, however, on the way back, with the Saturday night sunset beautifully creeping down the back of the mountainside, my usual worrisome, anxious, fearful, have to have back-up plans, self started kicking in. We still hadn’t heard a decision on the unit at the complex we had put the application in at. We had one more full day to look at any more possible options AND get some sort of response before we headed back to Michigan so that we can feel secure in knowing that we have a place for our daughter to live at the end of our lease. As of the end of that night, and with much…hmmm…”wish I really hadn’t said anything” discussion…we still hadn’t heard a word and we were going to be leaving first thing Monday morning, so that was going to be a lost day. My wife, who was feeling more secure for my liking, was feeling like her faith was under attack. I tried desperately to get her to understand that I had faith but I also needed back-up plans…that to go home with no other options was just plain stupid!
The next morning, after missing the first service at a church we’ve never been to, yet going to because that’s the church our hosts, my wife’s cousins, attend, we decide that we really wanted to go and still had time for the next one. My wife was convinced that there was going to be a message there for her. I never question her on those things. The church we usually go to usually delivers her a well-needed message for her, me as well. She was right about last Sunday though. After just stress and “discussion” that was happening while we were there in Arizona, there was just as much going on at home also…the message she heard hit the nail right on the head.
The message I heard, as I said in my last blog, ripped me apart…yet, only to build me back up again. It’s cool though, I couldn’t be happier…I couldn’t feel more alive and relaxed. Maybe nothing’s happened yet to really stress me out, I’m not sure…I’ll have to wait and see.
After the message, after me Reaffirmation to Jesus Christ, I’ll be honest…I was scared. My wife asked me if we were still going house hunting after church, and while I didn’t hesitate too much, I had to think about starting to have actual Faith in God…actual trust in Him, not just belief. It may have taken a few seconds, but I said no, we did not have to look any further. I put my faith, my entire life, my wife and daughter, our entire everything into God’s hands. If that’s not trust, I don’t know what is. But I didn’t do it to make a point, I did it…because he told me that day that I could trust him. It’s just that it was the first time I really heard him, I think. We continued to enjoy the rest of our vacation before having to get up at 3:45 the following morning.
3:45 Monday morning, the alarm on my phone goes off…it’s a simple annoying ring, but since I’m not at home and there wasn’t a night stand beside the bed, the phone was parked across the room. No way to hit snooze on that and roll back over. I wouldn’t have anyway, I was ready to get the day started. It was like someone hit my refresh button.
When I got on the plane in Phoenix, I switched the playlist on my MP3 player from “Play All” to “Finding Myself.” The first song that played was “Higher Ground” by John Denver and the next was “Set Me In Motion” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. It was toward the end of that song that I realized that the words of that song could so easily mean a person’s struggle to have actual faith in God, challenges to overcome obstacles in reaching the ability to trust, how easy it is to give up on Faith, since it’s far harder to act on it than to merely say it. And to put who you are or who you’ve become at risk just to take the risk to have that kind of faith…it’s scary..but when you just do it, it’s incredible.
There I was on the first day of a brand new journey, having been stripped of all but the belief that God was, indeed, there and the foundation of what it truly means to have faith. My supplies are trust and support. I was sitting in an aisle seat, my wife in the middle, and a lady next to the window who had the shade down. All I had to do was listen to my music. I closed my eyes and became very relaxed. I had also taken my medication, and there was a slight mix-up as to what one of the pills were, which turned out to be an “as needed” extra, which turned out to make me very relaxed. Normally, I’m very uptight on planes, even before getting on the plane. On this day, I didn’t have a single problem…even with the “relaxation” pill. I just let the music play and listened, but somehow, almost every song kept getting turned around in my head to something spiritual. I didn’t mind, I thought it to be interesting, so I started taking notes of what songs were coming on, as I had the playlist on random. Again, these songs were never anticipated to be used for anything spiritual, even if a couple of them are of spiritual genre.
The rest of Monday is a dead stick because we’re exhausted. One of our “foster” boys lets me sleep in and decided to keep riding his bike for the last week of school instead of me waking up early and taking him. ::sigh of relief:: Thank you, God and M for that.
I was uploading all my pictures from Arizona on Tuesday, came across a picture that took my breath away and once again, made me trust in Him even more. I had taken a picture of the landscape of the mountains set back behind the downtown Sedona area by the Open Range restaurant. I had taken a couple of them as I stood across the street. After uploading (and naturally, automatically deleting from my camera) I saw eight specks of light hovering over the mountains in a halo formation. Some of the “orbs” are very distinct in shape while others are very tiny dots. Talk about amazing! My knees started to shake the more I looked at that picture that day. Thank you, God, for that vision…I was not taking a picture of your angels, I did not see them at first, I was taking a picture of your beautiful mountains.
On Wednesday, our son had an appointment all day that, to our understanding, he was getting a ride home from. We had made dinner plans that were around the same time that he would still be gone, and, wouldn’t ya know…the phone rings while I’m outside working on the video. He needs a ride home. I didn’t really have the time because we were supposed to be leaving in fifteen minutes to head the opposite direction, and since I’m the kind of person that does not like a change in plans, I started getting pissy right away. I walked to my truck and got in, cursing at the fact that I had to go, cursing at the fact that I had to drop everything and rush, cursing the fact that I was so unprepared to not even have cigarettes, and even, in a hostile tone, saying “G-d dammit.”
I stopped was I was doing right away and closed the door to my truck. I took a deep breath and shook my head and said “I’m sorry.” I actually started feeling physical pain in my chest, like I knew I had messed up, like I had disappointed a parent, a best friend, someone very close to me who I knew that I was offending deeply because He knew I was trying so hard and how enthusiastic my heart and mind are about this. I didn’t back out of my driveway before I told myself to shut-up, that I was being selfish and all I had to do was make a phone call about dinner plans, that it probably won’t even be a big deal anyway, and that I can stop anywhere every half mile between our house and my destination to pick up a pack of smokes. I was making a big deal out of nothing…so thank you, God, for reminding me that I’m still in training and thank you for being patient with me.
Yesterday my wife starts getting upset about the possibility that she might have to buy moving boxes, prays for help with that situation, then turns the corner in a neighborhood and there’s a generous amount of perfectly good u-haul boxes sitting at the curb. After she got home, she and I went to the zoo and had a great time, even had a little picnic at a bench right in front of two wolverines. They were fun to watch, playing with sticks, running all around, swimming in their little wading pool… kind of like two medium sized dogs that, if you met out in the wild, would tear you to shreds and eat you alive. The complex in Arizona was finally able to get in contact with our current landlord to get a rental reference and we finally got a definite yes on our unit! Then, our son takes us out for dinner to a really yummy local restaurant that just happened to be on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and it was awesome. Just did it for us out of nowhere. We also got a visit from our “other daughter” who used to live with us and a long time friend…seems things are starting to work out for her as well. She finally is in her own apartment, with only a six month commitment, low rent and her job got transferred to a closer and much safer town. Yesterday was definitely our day. I should have played the lottery but I didn’t think about it. Even still, thank you, God, for all those blessings.
Saturday, just a lazy day. I didn’t really sleep in, although to anyone who didn’t know that I stayed up until almost four in the morning working on this video to “Set Me In Motion” would think that I slept too much. I got up to take our daughter to a party and then helped her take paint off her walls. It’s hard to explain, let’s just say…fun to look at, hell to cover. But, I think for the first time ever, I made something special out of it, rather than just taking something that, honestly is really rather expendable, and throwing it away, I did my best to salvage parts of it that she wanted. Thus, I have “paint pelts” that I scraped off her walls today just because she said she would miss them when we moved. Any other time I would have just got it off the wall and got back to whatever I was doing because I would have been annoyed that I had to go help her get it done in the first place.
Otherwise, I was finishing up my video. I’ve run into a problem with this site (or maybe my programs, I’m not sure) that have frustrated me so far…and it’s only my second post. My entire blog is based on having a soundtrack, meaning, there WILL be a song with EVERY post. Every time I go to add music to a post, despite ALL the media (music and videos) I have on my hard drive, when I go to select media, there are never any files to choose from…as if I don’t have the right file types or something. I don’t know, I’m not computer savvy. I just make things happen. In the background of finishing up my video for this post, I was listening to my wife talking to her mom on and off today. She’s going through her own trials and tribulations right now, but has seemed to come to grip with ideas about what to do with things, and is doing so with a fairly reasonable head it seems. So again, with the patience, thank you, God.
We went back to our usual church this morning, and the service was about Father’s day, of course. Unfortunately, preceding the service, my wife and I got into a little tiff about something that, more than likely could have been avoided with proper discussion and less defense, but oh well. It did make things a little difficult to really focus on the message of the day, but I was still open to whatever it was that God had led me there to hear.
I don’t remember much of the service, but part of it was that sometimes, when people aren’t always pleased with their father figures, they tend to make ones up that are perfect in their eyes, and carry that with them throughout their lives, however, carrying that idea of the “perfect father” becomes a burden because it creates more disbelief and faith in the father figure that you already have in your life. So maybe your father figure has faults, we all do…maybe someone else’s father figure does something better than your own, everyone’s does, nobody is perfect, not even you. The point is, the more you focus on those faults of your father, the more important they become to you to the extent that you’d give almost anything not to be involved and want something entirely different and you won’t even know what you’re missing because you won’t give that father figure a chance to show you the parts that aren’t faults. Like how to do something, or what things means, or offer you the true protection that father figures do.
I’ve only recently started giving my father a break from his faults, even whilst my family still harps on him for those same faults that I’ve held over his head since I was a “tween,” although they didn’t call us that term back then. And it’s felt so much better since I’ve done that, unfortunately, I’ve only done it since he’s moved twenty-some hours away from me, which he did because I convinced my parents it would be a good idea. Too little too late on my part? I’ll have to see. But I call him every day and he acknowledges that, like when I called him today to wish him a happy Father’s day and told him his card would be late…he said that was okay because he just enjoys talking to me everyday like we have been. When he lived fifteen minutes from me, I used to never call him, and it would be rare if I talked to him or even saw him but once a week, if that. So things on the “Father-front” are looking up…so thank you, God, for opening my eyes and my heart to my daddy again.
At the end of the service, we heard the children’s choir sing for the first time. We have an amazing choir at our church called The Gospel Truth, and they did great today too, but the children were the one’s who blew me away this time. It’s not that they sounded as good as the Gospel Truth, it’s what they sang and the fact that it was the children that were singing it.
They sang “Oh Happy Day!” I’ve heard the song before and I’ve tried to actually hear and listen to the words but have never really gotten all the words. It’s the lyric “Oh happy day, when Jesus washed all my fears away,” that pulled my week together for me and let me know that I’m still on the right path. Like I said, just last Sunday, it was like my life changed…but it was just last Sunday, that Jesus washed all my fears away, and gave me the courage and strength to start walkin’ and rockin’ this journey.
Thank you, God, for all the blessing you have given me and my family this week, and for all the blessing in store. In your most precious and Holy name I pray….Amen.
Now I have to get back to painting…