Monday, December 17, 2012

On the Edge of Raw

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On the Edge of Raw

We all live near a cliff that is high, dangerous and real.  We avoid it. We walk away from it. We steer clear of its danger. We know what is lingering there can be aroused at any moment.  And the worst part is that it takes very little to jerk us back to the place that we stand again at the edge… fearing the worst over again.

Where is the cliff that would drop us into “Raw’ again?

‘Raw’?  What do you mean by ‘Raw’?

‘Raw’is that place where your life was torn and was brought close to the point of destruction. That point in your life when things went terribly wrong and you thought it was over.

‘Raw’ is the place we walked away from. We didn’t die there but felt like we might. In fact it was so bad that we felt that the world could end and it really wouldn’t matter – and we would love it if had. But it didn’t – and we survived.

We survived by getting away from the great cliff of destruction that rises high above the ‘Raw’.

Two things happened to me right after time elation. I was high and doing well. I was enjoying the moment.  Then it happened.  Kerbaammm!

This past Saturday I was cleaning and chucking out stuff… to make room for a change in my life.  My little office had become clogged with too much old stuff. There were files and books and stuff piled everywhere.  And to add a little pressure I was trying to get it cleaned up before my wife returned from her weekend trip.

I lifted one file folder and looked inside. Kerbaammm!  There it was. I don’t know why I kept it. Maybe I thought that because of what it was and what was written that I should keep it – just in case I needed to defend myself in the future.

There written on the printed emails and scribbled notes were the events of a terrible time in my life. I had accurately written all that had taken place – all that I saw and heard from my perspective.  OUCH!  As I re-read the words that I had written my soul clouded over again.  The deep darkness of that long ago time in my life swept over me – like a fog coming in from the sea. 

In a matter of moments my cleaning and straightening and chucking out stopped dead. I was glued to my chair and couldn’t really move. Yet inside I was being pushed closer and closer to the gigantic cliff – and at the moment I was riveted to the spot or supreme danger. ‘Raw’ was still there at the bottom of the cliff and I was dangerously close to falling into it again.

Imagine… it has been years since the events took place.  Some of the creatures and characters in my horrific ordeal are dead. They are gone completely.  Others that were there are not able to speak any longer and likely don’t remember are very much there…  ‘Raw’ was still there for me.  And if I walk another step toward the cliff’s edge – I will be consumed by ‘Raw’ again.

If I am not careful I will drop into the abyss and not be back for a long time.

Slowly I pushed the papers back into the file and closed it.  With that closure I moved away from the edge again.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it… all day long.

Why do I still have the cliff so nearby?  Why can’t I find property in my mind that is further away from ‘Raw’?  I hate coming close to the cliff’s edge and know what ‘Raw’ would do to me if I went there.  Living over here on Elation Street is so much better.

Yesterday morning…
I had closed my own file. I was speaking at church on Sunday AM. The events of this past Friday in Newtown, Conn., were very much on my mind.  The fact that 20 Grade One Students died from gun shots from a deranged young person… could not be shaken from my thoughts.

My task Sunday morning was to preach on our ‘Rejoicing’ – our ability to rejoice even though times are really tough. Our rejoicing is possible because God is always there… and he has given us so much… particularly His Son Jesus. Yes I am a Christian and I truly believe this wonderful part of the Christmas story.

I was describing the Apostle Paul’s story from Rome as he wrote the letter to the Philippians – and where he instructed everyone to ‘REJOICE’… in every situation.  I had described how terrible it must have been for the Roman Praetorian Guard to have to be chained to this little preacher, Paul.  I told how I have met guards in our own prison system that have to spend holidays in prison – looking after the imprisoned offenders that often very difficult to deal with.  I simply described the scene that Paul saw – yet chose to rejoice.

However… Kerbaammm! It happened again. One beautiful lady came to after the service was over to tell me what happened to her when I was speaking.  I felt her pain… and realized that my words… or the topic… or maybe both had dragged her towards the edge of gigantic cliff and she was staring at ‘Raw’ all over again.  Her ‘Raw’ was 30 years old but still churned at the base of the cliff waiting to consume her all over again.

30 years ago her daughter’s husband, this lady’s son-in-law was murdered.  Her daughter lost the love of life… and the young family lost it all.  She told me quietly that her daughter has been able to move on… but she realized that she must not be able to move on… because with the words I used and the way that I spoke… she was looking at ‘Raw’ again.

It was at that moment that I wished I didn’t have to leave. I wished that I could speak to her more and encourage her.  I wished that maybe in some way I could help. I almost wish that I was the minister in this church(they are looking for a new pastor now) but NO I AM RETIRED… and love it.

As she left she told me, “I will have to deal with it.” I know she will with God’s help.

Oh boy… This lady and myself are the same. And I suspect that there are likely millions of people that live just like we do.

No I don’t have an answer any more than Paul did as he said, “Rejoice” – ‘focus on God and the rest will fall into place.’

I shut the file. Pushed it under another now orderly pile…and will leave it for another few years before I take another peek.  I need to build more good gardens and places of wonder for my family.  I need to not go there – near the cliff….

How about you?  How are you doing?

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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David Grant said...

Some things are not to be gotten over. They are broken reminders of losses that go beyond our ability to fix. There will be times for us to unveil/reveal the truth but that doesn't make the loss less real, but it does invite a few others into our lives.

What I'm a little saddened by was your reaction of this congregation in needing a pastor to deal with their raw. I'm guessing that there are people there who have been in the faith for more years than many ministers have been alive. And yet they are not looked to for the pillar of strength and compassion that should now be plain to all.

And this, makes the raw seem even worse for it highlights how tragic our preaching about rejoicing in our saviour truly is.

Murray Lincoln said...

I am aware of the Leadership and know the Leadership very well. I believe that much was done to 'preach' and 'live' out a message of rejoicing. I also know that some people will hold the pain inside - privately suffering and terribly alone... until the moment that comes and they open up... at a "God moment". What really was important in my simply account is - I listened and was there at the right time.

Personally as I went through my own horror and 'Raw' was created I had some that I could listen to and would listen to me...

Thanks for your comment.