Monday, November 08, 2004

all our trials and all our failures...

I am in love with the name Aidan. If I had a son, that would have been his name. Now that Aidan is suddenly and mysteriously on the list of top names for boys (* not that I keep up with that kind of stuff *), I have unfortunately had to start considering other less common options. My interest is threefold: 1. Aidan is an Irish name, 2. Aidan Quinn is a hottie, and 3. Aidan is a character in a Rich Mullins Song.

Last night I gathered together with Angelika and Meredith for the emotional experience that is Extreme Home Makeover. The family this time consisted of deaf parents, a blind & autistic son, and a teenage son with no impairments and a huge heart. The autistic son made me think of a movie I saw recently with Aidan Quinn and Mary Louise Parker in which she is the mother of autistic twins. Thinking about that movie on the drive home, I of course started thinking about the tragedy of no longer being able to use the name Aidan. I thought through all of the reasons I loved the name Aidan. And then I couldn’t get that dang Rich Mullins song out of my head.

As often happens when I get a good song stuck in my brain, I dwell on it and all of its implications for my life. If only I could dwell so strongly on scripture. I thought about it all night, and I woke up with the song still rolling through my head. So now I’m trying to work it out in print, so that I can come back to the lesson without having to keep the song on repeat in my brain.

Let mercy lead, let love be the strength in your legs; and in every footprint that you leave there’ll be a drop of grace. If we can reach beyond the wisdom of this age, into the foolishness of God, that foolishness will save those who believe. Although their foolish hearts may break, they will find peace. And I’ll meet you in that place where mercy leads

One thing I have noticed about these lyrics is how Rich melded mercy and action. My spiritual gifts spectrum is far from the side of mercy – I lean toward service and hospitality, with sprinklings of administration, leadership, and teaching (depending on which survey I am participating in). I rarely score high in the more internal gifts of mercy, prayer, and the like. Typically, I am a “suck it up” type of person ~ life is hard and we all have to learn to deal with it. Perhaps this goes back to the selfishness I am learning to deal with. I have always been willing to help the poor and neglected, whether or not they played a role in getting themselves into their current situation. I am much less gracious with people I know well ~ especially Christians. I am a horrible listener ~ especially to people who whine about situations that they could have avoided, and that I myself make every effort to avoid. I know this about myself, and I hate this about myself.

The mercy Rich refers to, however, seems to have much less to do with feeling and much more to do with being. This is a constant theme that has been weaving through our current Bible study regarding faith. We can’t rely on our feelings to determine our faith. I think in much the same way, it is in living out mercy that mercy becomes a part of our life ~ just as living out our faith, even when we don’t feel it, keeps our faith active. Lauren Winner refers to this concept when talking about liturgy. She describes the repetitiveness and familiarity of practicing liturgy as a means to maintaining a prayerful life, even when our faith is exhausted and we don’t feel the power of prayer in our spirit.

There is another truth apparent in this song, and that is the truth of failure. When we are truly trying to live out a life that reflects Christ, we will appear foolish and we will get our hearts broken. I have come to believe that there is no way around this. We are human, and no matter what successes we are experiencing in the life of the Spirit, we will feel the sting of rejection and failure from the world’s perspective. As we put our hearts out there, and allow them to love and forgive and see past what the world wants us to appreciate, we also open our hearts up to scorn, misuse, and even rejection.

It all comes down to a decision: between demonstrating mercy and risking being taken advantage of; between investing our lives in someone else and appearing foolish for doing so; between loving with our hands and feet and eventually our hearts and risking heartbreak. We are not called to a spirit of fear ~ fear of regrets and fear of rejection ~ we are called to Love the Lord our God With All of Our Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, and to Love our Neighbors as Ourselves.

1 comment:

JEB said...

powerful post.
and boy, you aren't kidding about the emotional experience of extreme home makeover. i hardly ever shed tears at movies, etc., but this show gets me every time.