Sunday, August 8, 2010

What God wants me to learn...

Life has been a series of ups and downs over the past two years.  Those who know me, know the struggles I have been through.  While I won't go into detail about each one (I don't want to get depressed!) I can say that I started to wonder if there was some sort of a giant target on my forehead, indicating a landing zone for all of the cosmic crap in the universe!

At the end of my devotions today, the author posed some insightful questions:  "Is God trying to get your attention through some circumstances in your life? Is He trying to persuade you to get back in step with Him? (Gal. 5:25)." 

His advice?  "We should resist the urge to harden our hearts. But let’s instead submit to God (James 4:6-8) and ask Him what spiritual lessons He wants us to learn." 

Okay.  I can do that.  I haven't hardened my heart to God, despite the circumstances that have befallen me, but I need to do more.  I need to reflect on what He is trying to teach me. 

Prior to what I shall refer to as the "downward spiral", I had a hard time trusting people.  I would let them get just so close and that was it. My rationale?  If you never let people in, they can't hurt you. I have learned that lesson over the course of my life.  Since hurting sucks, it is just easier to keep one's distance. In my mind, it makes total sense, but whenever I explain it, either verbally or in a blog, it sounds absolutely ridiculous.  We need people.  I need to learn to trust others and let them get close to me. 

Along with trusting others is the need to let others help me in my time of need, and to learn to ask for help.  These are things that I have difficulty doing.  I am the one who does the helping and the giving.  I seek others out and attend to their needs.  I am not used to being on the receiving end of help.  I feel guilty and weak when I have to lean on others, but God is trying to tell me that I need to be better about that.

Have I given everything over to God?  I doubt it. There are days when I think I have, but then I realize that I am still trying to hang on to some semblance of control.  Why do I fight Him?  Honestly.  Who knows my circumstances better than He does?  Who knows where I have been and where I am going?  Not even I can control the future, yet I try to control my daily circumstances, going through the motions of giving up control to God.  Obviously He's not fooled.  He's probably shaking His head, wondering when I will ever get it right.  I wonder the same thing.

I am getting better about asking for help and letting people get close to me.  On one hand, it's comforting to share my pain and sorrow with others, but on the other hand, I feel weak, stupid and guilty, always bringing up the negative things in my life.  Somehow I feel if I were just stronger, or prayed harder, or were just anything but what I am that things would be different.  I am truly trying to learn, though.  I want to take my life and hand it over to God.  I just keep getting in my own way.  I guess I still have a ways to go before the lesson sinks in.  If anyone knows a less painful way to learn this lesson, please let me know.  Until then, I will just keep seeking God, asking questions, and praying for His Grace and strength. 

Peace to you. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die." ~Martin Luther

A few years I had a job interview for the position that I now hold: High School History Teacher. The Principal asked me the final question, which was completely unexpected. He asked me to compare myself to any literary character, and explain the connection. Literary character? Me? But, I teach History. I had to think fast. Then, it came to me. Atticus Finch. For those of you who remember all those novels you had to read in high school, his name will be very familiar. For those of you who don't remember, Atticus is one of the main characters in the novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird". He plays the role of single father to two young children, and the city's young attorney, who is willing to fight for justice, regardless of the consequences. He is a determined, even stubborn man, who demands that right prevail, even if others feel that his position is futile, ignorant, or just plain wrong. Atticus Finch. They don't make people like that anymore....or do they? Turns out there is a jury in Spokane, Washington full of people with conviction like that of Atticus Finch.

Just yesterday, a verdict was handed down in a criminal court here in Spokane, Washington. I took particular interest in this case because it involved the young man who murdered a former student of mine. Nearly two and a half years ago, Sarah Clark, a kind, spirited, fun-loving senior in high school was brutally murdered by Justin Crenshaw. Justin had recently moved to the Spokane area to re-connect with a long-lost sister who happened to be one of Sarah's best friends. While we will never know the exact reason that Justin so viciously turned on Sarah and Tanner (another young man murdered at the scene that night), we know that two shining lights were forever extinguished at the hands of a disturbed individual.

I have watched the news for any information regarding this case and this young man since the day it happened. For every excuse that delayed the trial and every defense that was offered, I thought only of justice. I wanted justice for Sarah and Tanner. I wanted justice for the families who lost their children. I wanted justice for Justin so that he could somehow taste and comprehend the pain he caused and to agonize each day over the consequences of his actions.

Justin's trial is over. He was found guilty of the two murders. The jury did the right thing. It seems that they wanted justice as much as the rest of us did. His only possible sentence will be life in prison without the possibility of parole. At last, there is some justice, I guess. Despite the fact that I knew he would be found guilty, though, I can't help but feel a sense of frustration and emptiness. He's guilty. The world knows that and he will be punished for it, but Sarah and Tanner are still dead. They will never experience life. Justin robbed them of that. It is so unfair. I know that in the end, God will be the final judge. He will dole out eternal justice for this young man. That is consolation that seems far away at best.

I hope that Justin's lifetime in prison will provide him with the opportunity to realize the damage he's caused. Justice will come when he falls to his knees, his soul full of guilt, when the realization of the consequences of his actions comes over him. That is my prayer. I pray that God will convict him of his sins and let him feel the depth of the pain that he has caused to so many people who were close to Sarah, Tanner and their families. Through that guilt, perhaps some small measure of justice can be done.

Rest in peace and paradise, Sarah and Tanner. You will always be missed and never be forgotten .