Saturday, October 27, 2007

a slurry of jumbled thoughts.

as of late i have been confronted with a slurry of thoughts, tears, realizations, confrontations, questions and hopes.

i have realized that i make decisions in partnership with Guilt.

jake & I bought a motorcycle today. in fact, at this moment he is driving his Suzuki V-Stom home from Minneapolis, MN. We've been putting this idea around for a number of months now. weighing the pros against the cons - setting into motion the ever developing conflict within regarding the stewardship of finances and figuring out what not only what works best for us, but what works best for His Kingdom. in reeling through the demons gawking and babbling in my mind i was given the discovery of that nasty "G" word - the word that keeps so me so often immobilized from objective decision making = Guilt. my affair.

i take short showers (most of the time) because my neighbors in Africa are dying due to lack of water. i don't buy "stuff" anymore not wholly inpart because i don't want to but because I can't bring myself to spend money in such a way when women on the corner of cicero & armitage sell their bodies, their spirits for just enough money to feed their children. widows next door are hungry because our promised social security is not enough for her to live on. because day laborers here in Chicago, IL only receive $50 a day. that's just over $18,000 if they work 365 days, no days off while their wives & children live without the paternal figurehead of their home. because every tues. morning cute messy men comb through our garbage cans looking for wood, cooper, and food.

this is how I believe I have in part trained my brain to practice discernment, conviction, discipline. In part out of empathy, in part out of pain, in part out of hope, at times out of conviction and because Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself. now i have realized in part because of the guilt i feel and experience each day in response to making decisions, both big & small. for some reason, i feel a part of this entire messed up system i guess, and with my decisions i don't want to short change anyone. i'm not sure what balance will find it's way into a lifestyle of mindful comfort or cease the raging unquenchable restlessness that feels so deeply buried within the fibers of my spirit but i somewhat long for the day when i can walk into the corner store to buy a loaf of bread and not think about how much better that money could have been spent of feel like i should give that money, in equal amount, to someone who really needs it.

what i do know is this, i am no different than each and every man and woman i talk with each day either on the street corners, around the neighborhoods or at Garfield Counseling Center. each day i find myself within the presence of beautiful men and women whom i know i am no different from.

i am absolutely no different from Sofia whom uses heroin as means to stitch together the deep sever of loss and grief from loosing her two only children within three months of each other. her son from an accident and her daughter from an aneurysm. her husband left her not long after. she uses because no one has yet given her permission to grieve. she needs, she longs for a friend to rest with. heroin is the perfect choice.

I am absolutely no different from Willy who has two college degrees. one in pharmaceuticals. the other in computer science. diagnosed with cancer six years ago he was forced to quit his job as a phar. sales rep. soon after he found out that he had congestive heart failure. his wife left him. he later began to experience symptoms of depression, one of which is inability to fall asleep. he then began using heroin. it was the only thing that would bring him rest.

Ruby grew up in the projects and in her words, "in a home and community of extreme violence." raped, molested, shot at, tied up, stolen from, pregnant at age 15, two children at age 17, dropped out of h.s. because her mom refused to care for her children, physically, sexually & mentally abused by her common-law husband for 17 years. of coarse she uses heroin. she now has HIV is homeless and lives off Jesus. she loves Jesus. I am absolutely no different from her.

some may question my sanity when they read that i believe that i am no different than Sofia, Willie or Ruby. because let's be honest today - i am different. i was given the tools to be different. my parents raised me in a home and community which was different. i attended a school and a church which opened my eyes to difference. yet - i know, without question or hesitation, that if i were in their situations, growing up within their homes, their communities, their schools and churches, i would have seen no other choice than to deal with loss, pain, guilt, grief or even joy & celebration for that matter, without heroin, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, sex, potato chips or pop/soda. i digress.

so here is to gratitude. gratitude for an education and home where knowledge was nurtured and growth was encouraged. gratitude that despite my unfaithfulness, God has continued to pound His unceasing heart within me. gratitude that despite these demons dancing within - i know they are dancing within a transparent cell of serenity in which guilt can be nurtured and used as a temporary means for growth toward a deeper relationship with Christ, a deeper relationship with my neighbors, my clients and these beautiful radiating children.

pict. 1 - the kids couldn't handle getting their hands dirty and at first were making their way to the sink in between ever hand dip into the pumpkin to clean it's guts out. we stopped this madness after the third or so hand washing. kids these days!
pict. 2 - the final result, this really should be at the end. oh well.
pict. 3 - yummm. a gift form the rents - a handwoven basket from Ghana filled with squash & apples.
pict. 4 - jake & ethan. i think it may not be an exaggeration to say that possibly jake enjoyed gutting the pumpkins at first more than the kids.
pict. 5 - they finally got what it's all about. afterward i spent approx. 15 mins. cleaning pumpkin off the walls, chairs table & floor. we're still finding seed scattered about.


Rachel said...

Jess, I am going to read your post again later and consider it more. I am left with the following thought, however un-profound:

Where is the distinction between sacrificing for others and punishing one's self?

Indian Lake Papa said...

Rachel, I think the difference is in attitude, that is definitely an under statement but a good place to begin. Christ died on a cross, "sacrificing for others ...". But His other purpose was to serve others (see Mark 10:45). I think His death was an act of love. Had to be, He knew many would reject him, and if He had thought about it like you and I do, He would have said; "Ain't no way!" not enough in it for me. I "punish myself" because I would like to see more "returns". Not fair, after all He is fortunate to have Me! Especially that part of me that is so humble. I am quite the asset for His Kingdom! There is another word that sticks out like the word "attitude". It is "obedience".

I have serious problems with tremors all along my right side (keep me in your prayers), even though He chooses not to take them away, I will serve Him. It is hard for me to type or do anything with my right hand, but it is "His hand" and I will do my best.

God bless!

Indian Lake Papa

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

Thanks Jessica,

Once again you help us look at reality as I think Jesus would. You are right we are no different than the people you mentioned because given their situations we most likely would have made similar choices.

So what do we do? We love them and lead them to Jesus. Thanks for being real and sharing your heart my dear friend!

jennnnnn said...

the age-old conflict, theological or otherwise, of choices versus giftings. jess, do you believe that you as a child of God, created in His image, have gifts He gave you in order that you would better the world, others, and yourself? If so, it's not all about your choices; it's also that God found it fit to make you into YOU so maybe YOU could be His chosen instrument to help those who either made bad choices or didn't have the gifts to understand God's love UNTIL YOU came to them showing them HIM.

Ponder. Let's discuss. But don't you and Jake get guilty if I serve you a lavish meal and quality, expensive coffee, okay? Enjoy that God lets you RECEIVE!!! Bask in the richness of His GLORY, in great things and small - you know this :)