Friday, March 19, 2010

Sharing Twists and Turns in Life - MANN

My husband, Doug and I recently returned home from a winter holiday. As usual there were the immediate tasks that needed attention: emails, phone messages, post-mail, bills to pay and even notes from visitors and house-sitters Although new technology made it easy for us to keep in touch, there was still the onslaught of new information upon returning home.

While we were on the road, it was easy to be distracted from friends and relatives’ ongoing stress and difficult situations. The excitement of new experiences easily took our attention and numbed past memories. Even though it could appear as running away or escaping the reality of stress, obligations and expectations, it was still important to do this.
After changing my pace for this time, it surprised me how certain people, tones of voice, a particular song or landscape reminded me of the very person or situation for which I needed to pause, remember, offer prayer or contact. It was unfinished business and a privilege to remember.

During this holiday, I was privileged to attend the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces in the industry and hear an echo of many writing styles and interests I’d heard at Write! Canada. Cec Murphy was the theme speaker and he reminded us as writers to be vulnerable, honest, real and candid. In his usual speaking style laced with humour and information and life's twists and turns, he shared authentic areas of his own faith and writing life.

This experience reinforced a benediction I’d heard at an Ash Wednesday Service in an Alabama United Methodist Church. The minister said something like, “I’d like to tell you, as a follower of Jesus, that life is going to be without problems when you go out that door. Not so! But, you are a Child of God, and God loves you and is with you to strengthen and enable you. Talk to God! Amen.” This benediction meant so much more as the minister had earlier shared difficult twists and turns in his own faith journey—a perfect example of honesty and vulnerability proving faith in action.

Yet, knowing this to be true, and wishing I could make this work better in my own life, I am often tempted to use poor examples of phrases and over-used words to prove that faith works, while it’s living in the pain and suffering (twists and turns) that truly reinforces an active faith. I often wonder why, I seek to offer the end result of particular experiences, rather than staying in the struggle. Is it a little like someone asking me how I am, and instead of responding “Do you have an hour?” I automatically say, “Oh, just fine.” Didn’t someone say, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!” And too often I want to close a situation, claim it’s all over and say that I’m a happy camper and that God is smiling. And then when the dust settles, if I’m being honest and vulnerable, I’m going to admit that in ongoing daily encounters in life, I need to
“talk to God! Amen.”
Donna Mann
WinterGrief: A personal response to grief
Aggie's Storms: the childhood of the first woman elected to Canadian Parliament


Peter Black said...

Thank you Donna, for your "vulnerable, honest, and candid" reflection -- true to what Cec Murphey shared.
Yes, the crunch of authenticity can come when responding to the enquiry "How are you?" You've shown that it can be done well, and in good faith.

Glynis said...

And how are you, Donna? :) A lovely thoughtful piece that makes me pause and reflect. I am so glad you were able to get away with your hubby and refresh yourselves. The grind always awaits. But so does God. And, like you say, we need to talk to Him! Great post. x

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