Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Different Me

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33

Olivia looked at the photo in the lid of the jewelry box and said, "That's you," the surprise uplifting her voice in audible punctuation. Then her eyebrows knit together, a hint of musso drooped her lower lip, and she said, slowly, "That's a different you." What was that tone? Wonder?

I looked at the photo, from our anniversary dinner out in 2004, trying to see it through her eyes while gazing through mine. In the pause to formulate my reply, I thought of how my philosophy-major youth minister used to say you couldn't step into the same river twice, because each passing moment made it a different river and a different you. (No, too sophisticated for our 4 year-old neighbor. And slightly sarcastic.) I looked at those cheery faces and hair without much grey and remembered that me. That us. Two and one-half years from an official diagnosis of systemic lupus, I was able to exercise and care for my home and errands without much help. Compared to today, that me was strong and healthy. I remembered, and blinked back tears. (No, too depressing.)

How did I answer her comment?

"Yes, I had shorter hair then."

True, but the difference is so much greater, and suddenly I didn't have words or energy to try to explain it to a child too young to pour her own milk into a glass or cross the street alone.

Quietly, almost whispering, she gently touched the photo and said, "You had shorter hair then." Perhaps that was enough for that day, because she has rummaged through appreciated my jewelry boxes once or twice more since then and not mentioned it again. Her amazement on the next visit was that I have sisters, and a mommy and daddy, and a grandma??!! (The italics multiply when she comes to visit. She's as emphatic as she is adorable.)

This encounter has lingered in my thoughts since then, as though there's still something it has to teach me. That something may be for me to look in the mirror and ask God to show me the good things this present me has which that me lacked. It's still easy to focus on the losses of the intervening years, especially of the last three. No, four. No, five, starting with my grandfather's death. I tend to look in the mirror (which Amore says is my first mistake) and see how tired and worn that face looks. To my eyes, the last three years seem to have aged me disproportionately, relative to any other three-year period in my life.

God's breathed-out Word, however, says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28, ESV). The next verse clarifies that in part, at least, "good" and "His purpose" here mean "to be conformed to the image of His Son," His Son who was rejected, mocked, scourged, betrayed, crucified, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of the Father.

How, then, am I more conformed to the image of Christ than I was in 2004? The three-year retrospective post, "Balance Sheet," answers that in small measure. Some of the other things God has been doing do not belong in this post and possibly not on this blog. Perhaps we need outside witnesses to to be our mirrors and reveal some of the rest, and my friends are generous in their words of affirmation about how they see the fruit of the Spirit in me. Perhaps also we could not bear to know in full measure how we have begun to become "little Christs," which is the meaning of "Christian," lest we be tempted to pride beyond our strength.

Today marks three years of the existence of this blog. It's quiet at Wits' End this afternoon after a medical appointment and errand earlier and chores in progress, and I am pondering in what good ways I might be a "different me" than in that first post, written at a time I was too weak to unload the dishwasher without stopping to rest. Physically I am stronger than I was then, though not what I had been 6 months prior to that flare and not where I'd like to be 6 months from now.

The biggest difference, perhaps, might be that I'm a better socially-supported me. Through friends directly from this blogging journey and friends I've met at the ladies' Bible study at my new home church, I have no shortage of praying friends, and I'm not ashamed to call on them for back-up in the battles of life. (I love my biological family and am blessed to have one who prays, but when one's whole family seems to be under fire, it's ever so consoling to have the prayer and support of my family in Christ. Maybe you've been there too?)

Part of living out the life of Christ in this mortal tent-body means taking my place in His body, embracing my dependence on the rest of it, and letting others depend on me. By God's grace, I may be a bit more integrated into the whole after three years. To think He could have used confinement to my home for six weeks to broaden and deepen my relational foundation! Truly His ways are unsearchable. Inscrutable.

Thank you, kind Crumbles, for helping me along this path God has appointed. I truly do thank Him every time I remember you, which is often. May He pour into your lives all you have poured into mine and beyond, pressed down and running over. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:36

P.S. Stay tuned for a small giveaway post soon. If I don't manage it today, look for it tomorrow. For now, the laundry beckons, and I'm thankful today's me can sort, fold, and stash it.

In case any of you were wondering, which--let's face it--you probably weren't, the gratitude journal is still fully operational, even though it hasn't been published here as consistently of late. I'm still counting "the ways God loves me" day by day. Are you on a joy hunt yet?

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