Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Real Deal

I’m exhausted. 

It has been a month since Lynne died, and I have been very busy. But were you to ask me what I have been busy doing I would be at a loss to tell you. 

The word “whirlwind” comes to mind. Events keep playing over and over in our minds, and everything seems unreal. We still can’t believe Lynne is gone. One of my in-laws said, “we keep thinking, ‘she’s been gone long enough, time for her to come back!’”

I understand exactly what they mean.

I have had so many “things” to take care of that I haven’t had time to look after myself. Now I have to. I am going to take some time off and just “be.”

This is the last post on CaringBridge. I’ll be moving everything over to a blog I set up called “Living Truths.” I’ll  post a link here in the next few weeks so everyone can find it. 

I’ll continue to write about Lynne and the events of our lives together, and I will also continue to muse upon Christianity, religion, and spirituality.

I remain awestruck by the number of people who follow the posts here, and I am flat dumbfounded by where the writing comes from. I never have a clear idea of what I am going to write about until I sit down, and then it flows. I think God calls it grace. 

So many of you have flattered me with many words of encouragement. Lots of folks are telling me I should be a writer. That is exactly where God leads me. In fact, God has been after me to write for quite some time. Before Lynne died I had five short stories in various stages of editing, and was having a web site built to publish them. I have the base ideas for my first novel in process, and I also want to write about modern Christianity. That’s all been on hold, but the events of the last month have deepened that conviction in my heart. I hope to have the web site up and the stories published in the next few months.

I have been searching my mind for the best way to describe who Lynne was, and I’ve decided that the phrase “the real deal” fits well. Lynne was real. There was nothing artificial about her. The laugh, the smile, the belief were all real. Lynne wasn’t perfect, but she did have perfections. She had perfect belief. She had perfect hope. She never doubted that God would see things through, and He always did.

Which begs the question, “what makes us real?” We can also ask the opposite question, “What makes us false?”
I do this routinely when I lead Bible studies. I’ll  start asking people, “Who are you?” Of course, no one ever volunteers an answer. Then I follow up with “Don’t tell me about your job, or your family, or that you’re a Christian. I want to know who you really are.” If no one speaks up, then I start selecting volunteers.

Boy do folks squirm. I never, ever get a good answer from them. 


There are lots of reasons for this, I think. Self-examination is extremely difficult. It requires honesty, and it is painful. We don’t like what we see, and we don’t like who we truly are. When we look rigorously inside ourselves we see fear, we feel shame for things we have said or done, and we have a deep sense of inadequacy. Some perhaps even see evil. Each of these qualities can form a part of our true self.

Ultimately, if we are faithful to this exercise we realize that we are broken.

No one likes to feel that way about themselves, so when asked about who we are we turn to our false self for definitions. Our false self comes from the things of the world we use to describe ourselves. It can be money, it can be a hobby, a job, or an accomplishment. It can even be religion. 

When we use externals to define us we neglect the person that God made. We forget that we are human beings. What that means is that we are beings made by God. He has willed us into existence. It is God who defines us, who gives us our personalities, our character, and our talents. If this is so, then why do we look outside ourselves to identify who we are? There is no reason for this beyond a simple lack of trust in Christ.

In Matthew 3:16-17 the Father told the Son, “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favor rests on you.” The great spiritual writer Henri Nouwen tells us in Life of the Beloved  that “being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.”

God knows everything, and He certainly knows we that are broken. What we do not realize is how precious this makes us to Him. He loves us for it just as we love our own children when we see them in pain. As I mentioned last time, He uses our brokenness as an opening for His infinite love and grace. This is part of how He makes us holy.

But this happens only if we allow it, and only if we trust. We have to permit ourselves to receive God’s grace.

We’ve talked about faith as trust before, and about how holiness is an inside-out thing. It seems to me that confronting who we are in our brokenness is a vital part of this process. This is a deep truth that we will dwell upon some other time.

People who understand their being in Christ and their belovedness,  and then surpass their brokenness are truly rare. We sense this quality about them when we are in their presence. We sense their holiness.

That was Lynne. How many of us have some doubt every day about what we do? Lynne never did. She had the keenest sense of direction and spirituality of anyone I ever knew. She had this because her being, the real Lynne Breen, was centered in Christ. She knew she was beloved.

And now you have your answer when someone asks you who you are. Tell them, “I am the Beloved.”
This has been a dramatic time of change that began in January when I went to Gethsemane. That trip was the first in a cascade of events that continues to unfold. In the last month I lost my wife, my church, and a deep friendship. All are painful. One I had no control over. The others were at the hands of someone who sacrificed the Bible and our fellowship on the altar of personal expediency.

This is part of my personal brokenness, but I know that I too am the Beloved. God is making deep changes in me, and for that I give thanks.

A new season begins in my life, and in the life of my sons. Remember how I keep saying that death unleashes life? I see no accident in time as between the recent events in the lives of myself and my family, and Lent and Easter Sunday. The Resurrection was the historical event that unleashed life from death. So too has my wife’s death unleashed new life in myself, my sons, and others. We await eagerly the great lives He has prepared for us.

May you have a blessed Easter, and to God alone be the Glory!

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