Saturday, July 18, 2009
Unequally Yoked, pt. 2
I am fairly certain that I have never agonized over a post as much as I have this one. It's been through so many edits, so many incarnations, that finally I chucked the whole thing and started anew.
My main problem in writing this post came not from what I wanted to say, nor from the comments I received regarding part one. No ... what sat heavy in my heart for over a week were the emails that flooded my inbox from distraught, broken women whose feet are still planted on the path I once walked with my own non-believing spouse.
I am not someone whose heart breaks over the most mild of things. Sure, I cry when certain songs hit me just right, or when a moment seems to freeze before my eyes and I see God's grace in it. But tearing up over the stories of women I've never even met? Not likely.
And yet I have spent over a week praying through sobs for folks whose hearts are battered, bruised and aching in the deepest, most tender places.
Years ago, without warning, I dove headfirst over the waterfall of faith. C.S. Lewis sums up my epiphany: "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important." Christianity became infinitely important in my eyes. It was the starting and ending place for everything. But when I plunged into the Living Water, I went alone. My husband stayed on the cliff, mystified at my eagerness to jump and not willing to join me in my adventure.
Revisiting those sad days in the stories of others has brought me an even greater appreciation of the absolute gift I have in being partnered with a man who now grasps that infinite importance.
This post (and the one that will follow) is written to the women who contacted me--ashamed, lonely and confused. This post is written also to those who couldn't even bring themselves to comment on the topic--the ones who navigated away from the page in disgust, the ones who have abandoned hope of their husband ever joining them in their spiritual journey. This post is written, too, to the scores of women fortunate enough to have never been unequally yoked. Maybe there's something we can all learn from the pain of others, I figure.
Yes, Mr. Blandings came to Christ. If you were to see us in the halls of our church after a Sunday morning service, you would never guess that the cheerful, purposeful man hunting down signatures for mission fund checks in the halls once sought peace through repetitious chants as he toured a forest in soft sandals, head bowed and eyes closed to mere slits. What you would see is an eager, committed Christ-follower willing to follow his savior (and I mean this literally) to the ends of the earth. But that's only a small part of his journey.
How he got from Point A (Buddhist) to Point B (Christian) is really more his story than mine, but I will share bits of it in the hopes of encouraging those who hope for such a miracle in their own lives.
In short, Mr. Blandings was thrown hard and fast from his horse. The conversion of Paul is written in a handful of quick, intense lines in the New Testament. Not having been there, I can only imagine the chaos, the confusion and the awe. But as someone who has seen a man stripped bare to his soul by the Lord, I can also tell you that a certain amount of agony must have been involved. Because for Mr. Blandings, coming to Christ was clearly agonizing.
As someone who was raised with a background in the faith, Mr. Blandings was anything but ignorant of Jesus. But the Jesus he learned about during Religion class in high school was a huggable, soft-lit Jesus who suffered the little children and was led like a lamb to the slaughter. There was a distinct disconnect between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New, and that rift was confusing and disappointing. Buddhism was far more satisfying a venture, he felt.
Then, suddenly, I was pregnant with Logan. This was no run of the mill pregnancy. Bed rest. Hospital visits. Tours of NICU. Warnings that read like a laundry list of Things You Don't Want to Hear Associated With Your Newborn: brain bleeds, cerebral palsy, detached retinas, feeding tubes. Terror. Breathine. A quiet birth 5.5 weeks early with the dramatic discovery of a true knot in the cord and ...
A perfectly healthy 9 pound baby boy.
As his wife and the Christians in his life basked in the glow of God's amazing miracle, Mr. Blandings began to suffer from a peculiar discomfort. If God had simply set the world in motion, how had this--the delivery of a healthy son--happened? Where was the rational scientific explanation that could bring him peace? How did his faith account for such an anomaly?
Mr. Blandings probably would have pondered, delved and ultimately dismissed this miracle. It sounds pathetic, doesn't it? But it's true. A person who isn't interested in seeing God rarely will. And Mr. Blandings was only so curious at this point. As time wore on, his muddled state began to fade. Logan's safety seemed like a given. A quirk of the fantastic universe. A random happy accident.
And then, just as we had settled in to life with three active, happy kids ages four and under, tragedy struck. After a round of routine vaccinations, Logan experienced seizures and brain swelling that persisted for two months. Doctors thrust sheets outlining the side effects of anti-seizure meds into our quaking hands. A neurologist asked us if we needed help understanding how to parent an older child whose development was arrested at two months of age. This is the kind of thing that brings people sure of their beliefs and God's goodness into valleys of darkness. For people whose hope is anything but hopeful, the gut-wrenching low of being subject to the whims of an uncaring universe is perhaps the greatest blow of all.
Mr. Blandings wanted to run. He wanted to hide. But Jesus would not let him.
This was not the Sunday School Jesus. This was not the gentle Prince of Peace. This was, rather, the almighty YAHWEH, the roaring I AM whose complete and total dominion will not be ignored.
Mr. Blandings could not escape the painful, awful, beautiful truth: GOD had given him his son. And GOD could take him away.
Logan eventually recovered, yet another in the long line of blessings that the Lord has so graciously placed on our son's head. But Mr. Blandings, I'm happy to say, has never been the same.
It was a massive gulf to leap, the one from practicing Buddhist to submissive Christ-follower. But Mr. Blandings covered the distance in one night. Like Jacob, my husband wrestled with God. The emotions, sobs, anger and relief of those hours changed forever the dynamic in my marriage, my family and, I believe, the generations of our offspring to come.
Mr. Blandings had not found Jesus. Jesus had simply announced I AM, and Mr. Blandings was forced to admit that it was the truth.
In my next post on the topic, I'll share a few personal thoughts for women who are currently unequally yoked. Please, please, please feel free to contact me via email if you would like. To reach me: books and bairns (no spaces!!!!) @ gmail. com