“There are times in our lives where our peace is based simply on our own ignorance.”
(Oswald Chambers, from the August 26th Devotion, in My Utmost for His Highest).
My BHH pointed me to this Chambers quote. In many ways, my ignorant past seemed more peace filled than my present, wherein I am still processing some very strong emotions. Guilt over the hard choice I made to separate from family. Sadness. Questioning. Grief. Ongoing feelings of anxiety. Elevated stress with painful physical symptoms. Learning to accept that my life, health, and very being has been compromised and I will likely be limited for the rest of my earthly life.
As time passes and the traumas are processed, I feel peace gathering around the corners. I see signs, and feel its presence. Autumn creeps into the perennial garden in a similar manner. A few dead leaves fall into the bushes. Hydrangeas and Sedum turn dark pink. A few weeks later, the first frost brings about the full changes.
At other times tension creeps in on the peace. Like a headache you know you better not ignore, so you take some medicine and go lie down before it gets to that point. In those times, I force myself to lean into the truth. Not to avoid it. To trust the process and know that the tension will peak and then dissipate; so long as I face (and don’t ignore) whatever new truth needs to come forward.
I often look at my commitment to Jesus as a commitment to grace AND truth, since that is how Scripture defines Him. My healing process has been a back and forth tension between the two. A needed tension. Like the tension which holds a rope between two poles so that a person can balance their walk and make it to the other side. I extend grace and forgiveness to those who wronged me, and to myself as well. And yet I can’t let go of the truth now, I’d crash worse then ever if I did. I won’t go back into a false peace fueled by the ignorance and pretense that things were fine…when they were really very very wrong.
In addition to that Chambers quote, my BHH told me that the gulls flying above our heads here in Middle America are not the same species as those found near the oceans. (Seagulls were mentioned in my last post).
I took poetic license and went with a metaphor that I knew might break down if parsed too thinly. For full transparency: my seagulls are not the exact same as those found by the ocean. The species which live and fly near me like to build thick floating nests in nearby swamplands. Farming practices have changed in recent years creating more habitat for water loving gulls. So, yeah, maybe I’m not the best person to write about truth, and its importance. Ahem. Although, who knows, perhaps a few ocean dwellers are up there circling the sky next to their prairie cousins. Could be.
Like those marshland gulls, the grapes we grow here in Middle America are also different than those which grow on the West coast. The vine in my backyard produces small fruit. Full of seeds, and short on flesh. They are tart and not that sweet. But, like most grapes, they absolutely need to be trimmed and pruned. The more vigorous the trimming; the more abundant the fruit. A lot like personal growth and discipleship. The more we submit to pruning, the more fruit we can bear.
At harvest time, it is a tedious chore to pick the grapes as they are so small. After picking them, I plucked each tiny grape from its stem. The delicate flesh ripped apart around the large stones inside. My hands grew stickier and stickier. The punctured grape skins dyed my fingers and hands a dark purply red. After a good rinse in a strainer those bruised grapes were ready to be pressed down further in a pot on the stove. Cooked until the large stony seeds were loosened from the flesh and the pot was filled with dark purple juice. A pour through a strainer and another pressing followed, extracting as much juice as possible into a bowl. This year’s small harvest was larger than usual. It yielded about five cups of juice. The juice can then be made into grape jelly and preserved for winter use. Most of the stain came off my hands as I rinsed, but my fingers remain a light pink, especially in the cracks and under the nails.
Speaking of real and false peace: one of the things which gave me sustenance for the hard choice I made– of separating from abusive family members– was Matthew 10. Particularly verses 34-39 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
If we are called to such terms, how, then, do we find any peace? I am not entirely sure. As I noted earlier, I can feel it creeping up now; like Autumn in my life. But it’s still late August where I live. Though I believe that entering into the discipleship process can get us there (for me, the behavioral therapy process has been key to the disciplining process).
It is good to know, before starting out on such a process, that once we do start plucking and crushing and pressing down: we will change; we will look different; and we will be different on the other side of it. Like picking and processing grapes– afterward we will have stained fingers. And, hopefully, something sweet to spread on our bread.