Monday, May 29, 2017

The Sad End of a King

School is done (shout hallelujah!) and my mornings no longer feel like race to the finish line, which is really just a starting line.  The joy in that, of course, is time for coffee, reading, and thinking before I have to kick into high gear.

This morning, I was finishing out the book of I Samuel after an incredibly long break from doing any serious reading.  No real excuses.  Just life as a parent, teacher, and newlywed in the middle of a move.  Things have been hectic...

But, back to the last chapter of I Samuel.  The entire chapter is pretty dark, depressing, and blindingly sad.  Saul, who was once a great and might king - also tall, dark, and handsome, according to the scriptures - ends his life as a sniveling coward on the field of a massively failed battle. The usual lesson here is more about David than Saul; after all, most of us just look at the two for contrast.  Lately, though, I've felt a lot of sadness about lost potential, and I guess that's why I see Saul's story as one that is so very tragic.

I see a young man, uncomfortable in his own skin, hiding behind bags so that he doesn't get called out.  I see a new king desperately insecure, and therefore trying to build himself up by bullying others and pressuring them under his authority.  I see a man drivenn by jealousy and arrogance to homicidal craziness.  It makes me sad.  Mostly because I see a whole lot of Sauls surrounding me in the world.

You don't have to look past Facebook to see it.  The trending stories on the right hand side of your screen will weekly have a few old rock stars or movie stars who have ended their lives in a blaze of drugs, alcohol, and wasted potential.  There will be tributes to them, of course, lauding early achievements as everyone tries to forget the way it ended.  The pictures will focus on a young man or woman, in their prime, before their individual demons did their damage.  That fame will inspire another generation to follow down the wrong path, convinced that they are different and the bad stuff just won't happen to them.

You can see it in passive-aggressive posts that have no place on social media.  Meanness and armchair judgment blasted from the safety of your phone, tablet, or computer is so much easier than compassion.  So that's what most do.  The spirit of Saul - the spirit of the insecure bully - can be seen in its shining glory, on display for all to see.

But we cannot forget that Saul isn't a hero.  He is not remembered for any accomplishments, only for the meaner parts of his spirit and personality.  He is defined by his hatred of those loyal to him, because he never could believe in himself.   By the fact that his own son could see just what he was, and therefore he hated him too.

Saul's story breaks my heart,  because it is a story of lost potential and failure to understand that humility is the key to success.  In a world that is defined by self promotion, it is essential that we remember that Jesus called us to make ourselves servants.  Servants wouldn't do promotional videos about how awesome they are.  Sauls would.

I wish I could have talked to that young Saul hiding behind all the baggage.  I wish I could have told him that he didn't have to compete with anyone because God had anointed him to be king.  I wish that I could tell him that he didn't have to maintain his own position by scheming and dominance.  He just needed to trust in God.  He just needed to obey.

I wish his story had a different end, and I wish the same for every trending story on the side of my Facebook feed.

I Samuel 31
I 4Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”
But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Changing Seasons...

It's been a long time since I've written anything.  And I do mean anything.  There was a time when writing was something I felt compelled to do daily, almost like eating.  And then somewhere along the way, seasons changed.

My inspirational life with a toddler and an engaging young daughter faded into something that felt a lot more like work. The young daughter became and tween and then a teen, and parenting got "real" in ways not entirely pleasant. I got a graduate degree. Changed jobs.  Twice.  Found a renewed passion for music expressed in a new way.  And then I found love again.  Seasons have continued to change.

This current season has been wonderful and also a little challenging.  My family is blended and wonderful.  I remember the night before our ceremony, I sat in my living room and thought just how much everything was about to change.  It has, but it's been easier than I had worried.  We are finding a new rhythm, and I'm so grateful for it.  I had wonderful years as a single Mom.  I'm having even better ones as the Mom in a reconstructed family.  I'm blessed with a loving, patient man who is my spiritual leader and teammate.  Still pinching myself to believe it's real, but I'm so thankful it is.

At 41, I've realized that my career is probably where it's going to end up.  Any big dreams I had on that front have faded.  I will be a teacher of lower high school grades, and I have to accept that.  I wish I could tell you that was the dream come true I'd always wanted. It isn't.  But I can learn to be content.  What it does mean is that teaching is no longer the massive, passionate creative outlet it once was.  With older kids, parenting really isn't either.  The 10 and 15 year old don't want carpet picnics in the living room anymore.  (I've shed some tears over that while tearfully looking at other mother's precious babies on Facebook.  But seasons change, and mine has...those golden early days have faded.  It is well, because it must be.)

So last night, after the supper was cooked and eaten, I left the teenager cleaning the kitchen (there are a few perks to this age 😉) and went outside to talk to Jesus where it was quiet. I didn't really have a coherent prayer, just a thought.... It's not that I'm not thankful, Lord, but I'm at loose ends. I need to create something.  I need to feel like something I do matters. And I'm not feeling that so much right now.  And He gently reminded me of this long ago blog, where I shared the hardest moments of my life and found something beautiful in the process.

So here I am today.  Writing as therapy again.  Not sure what it means or where it's going.  I'm not sure there's an audience for anything I have to stay in this stage.  But it's been my experience as the parent of a teenager that it can be a pretty lonely time for mothers if you aren't in the extroverted, club-Mom group, which this introvert certainly is not.  I do know a thing or two about loneliness.  So, here I am.  For whatever the next season brings, I will do my best to learn the lessons along the road, and to share a little along the way.