Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I just finished the midnight prevention potty trip and it is 3 am. Got the blessings again. A few hugs and sleepy I love yous. My cup overfloweth, and their bladders did not... I think that is win/win.

I went to the pool today with my dad, my step mom and my kids. It was really a good time. You pretty much have to go to the pool in Birmingham in the summer. Not many other options. If you take your kids to the park on a nice, sunny day, not only do you have to pack drinks and lunch, but you might as well take along some IV fluids for the dehydration that is likely to ensue.

I love the South.

It was great to see my dad in the pool with my kids. He was throwing them all over the place in the best way for about three hours. They were showing him all their tricks and talents. I think it is cool to watch my dad with my kids. It sorta gives me a little glimpse into what it was like when I was the little one being thrown around in the pool.

You need little reminders of that stuff because memory is so flawed. It is good to see the fun, laughter, hugs and such... because when you get older moments like those don't seem to have as often an occasion. And besides, it would be weird for my dad to throw me in the pool now. He's already gonna be super sore tomorrow, or today I guess. Perhaps as I write this he is aching in his bed at the Embassy Suites.

I have crossed a significant line in my adult life and I will share it with you. I have become old enough now to talk about my aches and pains in my body. I mean, in normal conversation with non family members. Not strangers yet, not acquaintances yet, but close friends and family. This is a rude awakening. This is something I generally think of older people doing. Talking about the weather and their back pain. But, here I am talking about my aching back, my nagging hip and my toe for crying out loud. And I already said something about weather a few lines back. Ugh. What the heck! I noticed it when my friend and her husband came to visit. A decent amount of the conversation centered on our physical discomforts. This is a bittersweet reality.

Bitter in that I am seriously surprised by my aching body. I still see myself as a kid in some ways. Yeh, I have thousands of dollars of debt, been married for 10 years, have three kids, finished medical school and residency, but still, inside, I don't FEEL that differently than I did before. I think differently, make better decisions I hope, and have a more informed worldview, but I generally feel the same inside.

That tends to explain the SHOCK I feel at my body aging. (Don't get me wrong, I know that 36 is not "old" and all that, but it is not 18, and if that is the frame of reference one has, then one is going to be sorta continually appalled at the way the outside is not matching the inside.) I think the frame of reference is almost always half of your true age. I have not scientifically tested this, but I think it would work out that way.

I think I am not alone in this experience. I wonder if that "feeling" is sorta tied to your spirit's existence as opposed to your mind and body. My mind certainly knows I am older. I mean, I CAN count. And we have already established that my body is fully aware of what is up.

The facts are inescapable. My body is wasting away and there is a 100% chance that one day I am going to die. But something completely opposite is going on in my mind and spirit. A little reminiscent of that "I wish I knew then what I know now" kinda thing I suppose, where when the physical ability was there the wisdom was not. Now, the know how is there and the perspective is there, but the dang BODY just ain't cooperating. Of course, sometimes, I beat my body and make it cooperate, and pay later. Some things are just worth that pain. I guess my dad just thought that throwing my son up in the air and into the pool about 100 times was one of those necessary beatings. I am glad I got to see it.

When my kids ask me about death, I have come up with this little definition... "Well, death is when your body stops working and you are just left with your spirit." I am not sure if this is the best way to answer that question or not. It is what I am confident happens, but I really don't know. You only die once and my time has not happened yet. So far as I know, only one Person has ever commented upon this reality with some experience. Lots of others have made statements with, what I consider, much less experience than He.

Am I really talking about death at entry number 5 on this blog? Seriously? I am not sure we know each other well enough for our relationship to stand this - or at least, your subscribing to these musings. But, it is 4 a.m. and I am typing on my computer so who knows what might come up.

You might need some chocolate, this could get depressing.

I jest. I have had some serious fears of dying in my 36 years. And rightfully so. I have made some really dangerous choices in the past, and I have made some really great ones that resulted in things that I would be devastated to lose. There was a time I was overcome with fear regarding this topic. Notice I am talking in the past tense. There's hope.

What happened for me was something I like to call "mental flooding." In behavioral medicine the technique of "flooding" is sometimes used to help people conquer fears that are disrupting their lives. It can seem kinda harsh to immerse someone in his worst fear in order to overcome it. But I think that is sorta what I did.

I was afraid of the physical pain of dying, or of being in an accident and one of my kids dying because I could not rescue all of them, or my husband dying and my living out the rest of my time on this planet specifically without HIM. These are some basic fears I think are relatable, but there were other weird ones that I am just NOT going to describe, so don't ask.

This went on for years. Granted I was pregnant most of the time which could not have helped in the rationality department, but it is sorta hard to argue with the basic fact that one day "my body will die and I will be only spirit." There is that whole idea of nihilism, where one believes that after the body dies there is just no existence, nothing except the chemistry and physiology ever made one "real".  By the way, that chemistry and physiology is pretty majestic, rational, intricate and organized in and of itself.  Qualities that one generally does not ascribe to  uncreated, spontaneous, ultimately meaningless "processes. " Maybe you would not describe them that way, but if you really looked into them, I bet you would.

Well, there's not much evidence to support nihilism to my knowledge PLUS is does not really match my experience. I mean, are we really only ever experiencing chemical reactions? Is what I witnessed at the pool today simply chemistry and physiology? I know the movement of the muscles and the ATP expended in the use of said muscles is happening, but wasn't there also more happening in a different realm? I am sure I REALLY experienced something more than just electrical charges and physiologic cascades of reactions. I just don't buy what nihilism is sellin'. I KNOW what makes me "ME" is more than the sum of my measurable particles.

My "flooding" went a little like this... "So, Melissa. What would happen if all this DID happen? I mean, God has not promised you that tragedy and calamity will not come your way. You should not trust Him for something He has not promised. There could be real let down in that." I kept going. I began to understand that at the root of all of this fear, was a fear that I might be wrong about God and calamity would prove it. Can I be that honest?

But God proved to me, that He is big enough and real enough for my honesty. He answered the question I did not even know to ask. That is just so what He does!

I shared with my husband my fear that if serious hardship came my way I might fall away from God. And if that can happen, is this whole God thing even real? You know what he said? of course you don't so I will tell you. He said, "Melissa, when you first became a Christian, and God was a REALITY for you, it was God who had been pursing you. It was not just you 'figuring out' stuff. He was actually pursuing you. And if you stray, He may have to fetch you again." I am sorta paraphrasing because it has been several years and I have slept since then. But, I am NOT sleeping now. It is 4 a.m.

Pursuing me, fetching me, shoot, even having me on His mind. I like the idea of that, but I cannot base my life on something I like to think is true because it makes me feel better - I have to know it is more than that. There were parts of what my husband described I knew to be true by experience. But, I was still afraid. Still waking up in the middle of the night running disaster scenarios of how to escape tragedy. Still trying to find ways to make myself feel like my worst fear had already happened and how was I going to answer my theological questions so I could still love God and trust in Jesus.

And, literally, one day, a familiar and favorite Old Testament story and scripture put a seal over a fear that has not been able to haunt me since.

Moses was trying to lead some really irritating people who were hard headed toward a destination that God had said would be a great place for them. But, the folks kept doing the wrong thing again and again. So, God said something like "OK, you guys can still go to that destination, but I am not going to be going with you." Moses totally flipped out.

It was like getting to go to that pinnacle, but not having the one thing you love the most, and it feeling empty and meaningless. I remembered that feeling. AND I also remembered when that feeling left my life. Who it was Who chased it away. And I remembered Who I loved the most.

Moses flipped out at not having God's presence with him where he was going. Apparently, Moses had become a little wooed and accustomed to living in an experiential REALITY with God, and living, now, without that was like... dying.

And I realized I had grown accustomed to it as well. The thing that saved me, was a promise. God HAS PROMISED that His Presence will go with me... no matter what. No matter if my child dies. No matter if my husband does not out live me. No matter if I get sick or injured. God's Presence will be REAL TO ME past, present and future. And THAT is something HE controls. Not me. I used to think it was something I conjured up (hence the fear when I thought I might lose my will to conjure should calamity strike), but no. Knowing that He is real and active in my life, is something He does. He is responsible. And He is not One to fall asleep on the job, or lie.

Since I knew that losing Him (by losing my faith due to tragedy) was the real root of my fear, having it made REAL to me that He is committed to me, would fetch me from anywhere anytime, and has promised me an experience of His presence for my entire physical life, I don't fear death anymore - mine or anyone else's who knows Him.

And THAT is how life is also, SWEET.  My body may age, my mind may slip, my memories may fade. But what I have experienced is real and has eternal significance. And Who I have experienced will be with me until my body quits and He and I see face to face.


  1. Future posts won't be as long, I hope. Sorry. I am going to bed now.

  2. Powerful stuff. And you're right. If it were up to us to save ourselves and maintain that salvation, we would have no hope. Even though I'm saved, I still sin, and each time I sin, I would break that fellowship. But God is the one who does the holding on. He'll never let go, never let us fall. All we have to do is quit trying to control the situation and let Him be in charge. There's no point to worrying about tomorrow. There's more than enough to worry about today. But if we truly trust the Lord, we can trust Him to catch us when we are tossed in the air.

    Thanks for reminding me of that aspect of God.

    Brian M