I’ve been reminded lately of the importance of “and” in how we process the trauma, pain and loss in our lives. It was a lesson I learned years ago and was reminded of again by several individuals who have helped me through very rough times, some of whom had their own trauma and chaos to deal with.
Sometimes we willingly face or are forced into evil situations where we must persevere in faith (with the power of Christ who manifests in weakness) insisting on our self-worth as human beings or the worth of others in real time and space. Often, the consequences and shear pain (often inflicted by those around us) appears meaningless and and endless. And yet, there is still that and.
As I look back on my distant past and some recent incidents I am reminded of the God who sees, the one who showed me my self-worth and how to live. Those around me thrived on negation. They had to tear others down (particularly those already thoroughly victimized my cruel and empty individuals) in order to exist. Or, they were people in positions of influence who chose to avoid and enable what they were called to stop. Even then, I wished they could truly give their lives to Christ despite their clammering about the other “fake Christians” around them, or being active themselves in their churches, or their love for Christian culture, but not the heart of Christ. God is within reach of all of us, if we will only truly make him Lord of our lives and let his self-emptying power (risking for others, standing against evil at personal cost, surrendering social standing and being “first” to the world) manifest in our lives.
God, if I have a place at your table, in your communion, then I have everything. And if I have a place at your table how can I not perceive others at this same table in practice in the every day and nor see the sheer possibility around every corner for those turned away from you?
God gives us the and. One is never truly left with just evil which has no meaning in itself. The life, death and resurrection of Christ and our own potential and destiny in him are ever present alongside pain and suffering recasting and re-contextualizing them.
And, there is always those moments of beauty that one cherishes and can take with them even as everything else seems or seemed so thoroughly negative. I recount with a smile that day I was left in a remote area to find my way in the scorching heat (before I was rescued by a police car). I had “mouthed off” i.e. stood up to an abusive individual who was tearing another person near me apart. Worth it. Or, all the things I was able to accomplish in extreme environments that would have dragged others down. Or, those days where I had nothing of my own to brag about (and it all comes from God really), but merely managed to tell God I was empty, felt left alone by him, but knew who he was and renewed my commitment to him.
“Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!” -Bonhoeffer, Who Am I?
At the end of the day, I am thankful. The and allowed me in many circumstances throughout my life to stand up to pathetic displays of power and to the best of my ability, be and help others to be. And, one does not always “win” from a worldly perspective. Courage opposes evil not because there won’t be consequences, but because the consequences are deemed acceptable in light of one’s calling as a human being representing God. Sometimes the battle itself and knowing that one fought well when outnumbered and against all odds by the conviction of faith and hope in God’s future…sometimes, that is enough in moments.