Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Pain of Giving Life

I was young, maybe 7, maybe 10, when I saw my grandfather jump over a fence and rush to a cow that was lying on her side, bellering out in pain. The cow had been in labor for a while but now something was wrong.

I stood tiptoe on the bottom rung of the gate, studying intently the wild eyes of the mama cow, like she was pleading with me to help her - but I was just a kid. I didn't know what to do. The truth was, there was nothing I could do.

I watched as grandpa took baler twine and tied it around two small hooves sticking out of the mother. I watched as my grandfather kicked the mama cow. Kicked her hard. And he kept kicking as she struggled to her knees, hollering in pain as she reluctantly made her way standing.

I watched as my grandfather started pulling on that twine. Pulling hard. Pulling hard on little legs sticking out -

"NO! STOP!" I screamed. "YOU'RE HURTING HER!"

I became so angry at my grandfather. Hating him for what he was doing - yanking and pulling and swatting at the mama so she couldn't lay down. Didn't he see how much pain this was causing? Why was he okay with her being hurt? Why was he doing this?

In the end, grandpa was right.

I wasn't a farmer. I wasn't able to see the whole picture. That the calf being born was having trouble coming out, which put the life of the mama cow in danger, along with the life of the calf itself.

I wasn't able to see that the calf had to be born. That it wasn't meant to stay inside it's mother forever. Staying meant dying.

I wasn't able to see that the pain the mama went through was a necessary part of giving her baby life.

But now I do.

Now, I see how Avery wasn't meant to stay in this earthly world. She needed to be pulled out so she could live on forever. As a Christian, Avery believed that this world was just a waiting room; a womb to grow in until it was time to be birthed into heaven.

And that birthing caused great pain. It hurt. It hurt so many people. I can't help but think about Jadrian screaming out at the accident scene, "WAKE! UP! WAKE! UP!" Oh, the overwhelming amount of confusion and fear and frustration and anger as to what she was witnessing: Didn't God see how much pain this was causing? Why was He okay with her being hurt? Why was He doing this?

I'm not God. I'm not able to see the whole picture. But I know this: earth isn't our forever home. And now I know that the pain a mama goes through is a necessary part of her baby's eternal life.

That calf ended up being more than okay. Gamboling across pens to lick the hands of children, growing up big and strong and, well, incredibly happy. Because it didn't hold a single memory of any pain or hurt it may have gone through to get there.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow,
nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:4

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Clean is your Pantry?

There are times when I open my food pantry and all I see is nothing. Nothing worthwhile, I mean. Sitting on the shelves are boxes of rice, packets of chili seasoning, a couple half-filled boxes of Hot Chocolate packets. An old box of cereal waits for someone to finally roll down the liner. Crumbs in a potato chip bag that don't amount to anything wait for someone to throw them away.

I open the door and get quickly discouraged.

So, I shut the door.

And yet, I can walk to that same door, open it and see shelves stocked with delicious goodness! Spaghetti sauces and brownie mixes. A bag of plump potatoes and onions as big as my head. Cajun spices that make everything taste better.

Same pantry. Same door. Different vision.

It's what I choose to look at. It's what I choose to see.

Sometimes, life gets the better of me. All I see is the crumbs. All I see is the outdated crap that should be tossed away and yet I can't seem to figure out how to trash it.

Yet, at other times I have no trouble seeing past all that nonsense to gaze at all the good stuff!

When you think of it, we're all kind of like a walking pantry. Instead of food, our shelves are stocked with happiness and peace and fear and sadness and all the experiences that we've gone through in our lives. We get invited to peer into the pantry of our neighbors and co-workers and the other parents at the school - and we have a choice as to what we're going to take stock of. What we'll notice. What we can't seem to look past.

I know I should clean out my (personal) pantry - and I do from time to time. But a lot of the time when you open my door you'll just see a scattered mess. Things falling off the shelves all crazily displayed. And maybe you'll pass judgment and wonder why on earth I don't just straighten everything up so I can look as well put together as you.


Someday I'll toss out the stuff that shouldn't be stored and get rid of the stuff that's outdated and expired. I'll group together all the happiness and all the joy and stand all the boxes of strength side-by-side! And it'll be good.

But today, well, today my pantry is a mess. Today, if you can't see past the stuff that doesn't seem to be worth anything to you, you have a choice: Look past it and take notice of the good stuff, or close my door and walk on.

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, 
the one who is able to save and destroy. 
But you - who are  you to judge your neighbor?
James 4:12