Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lay Offs, Peter's Journal, and the Easter Bunny

Where do I begin?

Er, well . . . Jermaine got laid off last week . . .

. . . Kind of put a damper on things.

I didn't take it well. Jermaine was full of mixed feelings; relief [from not having to go back to a job he didn't love], uncertainty, panic [he wanted me to add], hope and excitement [for what God was going to do next]. He felt that this was the first time he'd ever been tested - the first time he didn't have a safety net in place. And he was ready to give it all to God and see what the Lord has in store.

I was miles away in spirit. When he first told me, I laughed. We'd spent the day [last Friday] scraping up funds to pay for a way-past-overdue credit card so it wouldn't be charged off. We finally figured out a way to to do it and . . . wtf? I was in total disbelief.

Eventually, later that day, it did hit. And I felt numb with shock. I had said, only a few weeks ago [when he was called into his boss's office and we thought he was about to get the ax [though, of course, it didn't happen at that time]] that if he did, it may be a blessing in disguise. That if God was going to take this away from him, it was because God had something way better in store [and perhaps something that uses his unique gifts [graphic design and music/piano]. Now I suddenly wanted to kick myself for saying such rubbish.

Disbelief and shock wore off pretty quickly [less than 24 hours, I would say] and I was left with this horrible ache in my stomach that smelled distinctly like fear. I was scared. And depressed. I felt so out of control. I hated not knowing what was going to happen next.

I knew it wasn't a God thing. I knew that these feelings were not helpful, and that, in fact, they were probably quite harmful. I am an emotional creature, though, and I could not pull myself out of this destructive funk.

Saturday night, at dinner with some friends [an event Jermaine had to drag me to], I first began to experience Jesus at work pulling me out of the muck. Our friends graciously and honestly offered to help in whatever way they could. If not for times such as these, they exclaimed, what was community for?

We have known these folks for, like, two months! And I am still struck by their love and kindness.

Their caring and concern helped, a little. I thought it helped more than it did, I think. I wish it had helped as much as I thought it did [you get bonus points if you follow what I just said here - because I'm not even sure I do].

But, sigh. I am stubborn and, I believe, I wanted to stay in my [funky but familiar] funk.

Jermaine and I have argued, it seems, all week. It sucks so bad. We knew. We knew that this had the potential to pull us apart [as similar scenarios have done in the past]. We hoped against hope that it would do the opposite, and strengthen the bond between us. But we seemed to be fighting a losing battle.

Jermaine and I go about life very differently. He is very understanding toward the way that I operate. I am, however, not quite as accepting. I quickly became frustrated [too quickly]. Feeling that he wasn't doing enough to look for a job. Certainly not the way I would do it.

And so we fought. And we gave each other the silent treatment. We went to bed angry. We got up [and I was still angry]. Instead of praying to God for strength and perseverance, I focused on perfecting the art of holding a grudge [which, interestingly, is not normally my nature].

Yesterday, after about the fourth time we'd fought, made up, and burst into anger again, he walked up to me, put his arms around me and asked if we could just stop being mad at each other.

"Okay." I murmured, feeling weak and out of control. Let's just start there.

We still don't agree, of course. We still do things very differently. But we haven't fought since yesterday and considering the week we've had, that's a bit of a record.

I think that there are demonic forces working among us. Spiritual warfare, if you will. I said earlier I thought we were fighting a losing battle. I forgot, for a little while, the God who has already won the war.

I don't want to say I am still scared. If I am, I pray that God will take that fear away from me. And help me to focus on him. Jermaine thanked God for this lay off earlier today. I am so glad he did. I needed to hear that. A couple of blogs ago, I wrote about thanking God for all things. Compared to some of the things I thanked God for in that blog, this is nothing.

My friend Jess mentioned today that when a friend of ours was in mourning during a particularly sad time, she used to pray, "Lord, You do everything so well." Indeed. Indeed.

Today is Maundy Thursday. It is the day that [some of [it's traditionally been a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox kind of thing [think "high church"]]] the Christian church remembers the initiation of The Last Supper. On this night, 2000ish years ago, the disciples ate and drank jovially, ignorant to what was about to take place. The very next day, their Messiah was killed - crucified, and it seemed that nothing, nowhere - in the entire world could be worse than that moment, except perhaps, life afterward. Jesus, they thought, had failed. Something had gone terribly, terribly wrong.

And then, two days later . . . the rumors began. A couple of women were spreading some crazy things. That His tomb was empty. That Mary Magdalene, the former prostitute, had seen him. That he was alive - back from beyond the grave.

Of course, they didn't believe it, at first. How could they? These things just don't happen, right?

But then, there He was. Right in front of them. Oh! Glorious God, how can it be?

This seemingly horrific event [the worst thing in the entire world] turned out to be the greatest gift [in the entire world].

Lord, You do everything so so well.

And I think about Peter. I am so drawn to him. He is notoriously passionate and hot-headed. In love with the Savior and prone to wild mistakes. The night before Jesus died, after supper, He journeyed to a garden to pray. Jesus knew what was coming. He asked a few of his disciples to stay awake and pray with him, Peter was among them. They could not keep their eyes open. Right before he was arrested, a frustrated Jesus exclaims, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!" [Mark 14: 32-42]

And then, when Jesus is arrested, an enraged Peter takes out his sword [a sword he still carries despite Jesus's message of Love, Peace and a different kind of Kingdom] and cuts off the ear of the high priest's slave. Again, Jesus rebukes him, "Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given Me?" [John 18:10-11]

A few hours before all this, Jesus had revealed to Peter that he would deny Him three times. Peter was indignant. Surely he wouldn't [couldn't!] do that! But by Friday morning he faces the grave realization that Jesus spoke nothing but the truth. [John 18: 15-18; 25-27]

And I just feel for the guy. Man! He's really blown it.

Sunday morning, when the women discover the empty tomb, an angel is there, waiting to share the good news. He tells them, "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.'" [Mark 16:7] [Emphasis added.]

Peter probably didn't feel like a disciple anymore. But God is so incredibly merciful. And reading this story, I am struck with gratitude. Because I know I've been spots like these. And I know God has mercy on me, too.

This is the first year I have thought twice about the Holy Week. Last year, Jermaine and I told Sadie the truth about the Easter Bunny [and Santa Claus]. It's been a difficult year for her. Her first Christmas knowing the truth [which, I think, was considerably harder than Easter]. But she is a cool kid, and I think, may prefer to be in the know, taking her first small step out of childhood.

This last year, for me, has been difficult, too. God has been placing things [like Maundy Thursday and Lent] on my heart. Difficult, but rewarding, I guess I should add, because I feel that he is teaching me fascinating things about his personality, things that I was completely in the dark about.

Tomorrow, I will attend my very first Good Friday service. I crave the somberness that [I think God is teaching me] should accompany the next two days. I want to feel the deep, unspeakable loss that the disciples felt, so, on Sunday I may feel the immense joy, comfort and elation of the Resurrection.

I think God blessed me with a cool idea today. A bloggerific idea, I must say.

Peter's Journal: a fictional account of the feelings he endured 2000ish years ago [based on the Bible and a bit of internet research, probably].

For the next few days, I will "be" Peter [a brief biography will proceed the entries in case you want to learn more about who he is [though I am not not not an expert on any level]].

I think this may be a prayerful learning exercise for me from God. I said I wanted to know what it felt like . . .

You know what they say - be careful what you wish for.

Sweet dreams. And, as always, thank you for reading my blog.


JMS said...

Ahh, tis indeed hard to trust what God's doing with our lives when we don't see any of the path ahead. I'm going through that very thing right now.

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Peter's thoughts as Peter. It's gonna rock (pun intended!). ;)

brandyglows said...

Thanks JM! Ahh, tis a very nerdy pun. ;)