I was born with a kidney blockage. This condition was not recognized for what it was until I was six years old. Growing up with that was difficult. This is not to say I had a hard life. Plenty had it far worse than me. I wasn’t dying, but it was very painful. For me it is a pretty standard benchmark of what I can tolerate. The blockage would make my kidney swell resulting in intense pain. That pain would be so intense I would be up all night vomiting. This was a regular occurrence. It was rather traumatic as a kid.
When I was six the blockage was found and removed with surgery. Every now and then like any kid I would get the stomach bug. I hated it. It threw my body into a crazy funk where it would flashback to those long nights of pain and tears. It still does. I have grown up hating the stomach bug. It is by far always the sickest I ever get, and my mind goes out of control from it. My body literally can’t seem to comprehend it is just a simple virus. It’s awful.
I write this “pleasant” story to fast-forward to about two months ago. My youngest son had thrown up twice by 9:00 in the morning. My wife and I have started to mentally prepare ourselves for what we believe this means. He has the stomach bug, and we will now all drop like flies. As I got ready for work I prepared to give my goodbyes to the family. My youngest son was sitting on my wife’s lap, and recognized I was getting ready to leave for the day. He leaned forward and asked for a kiss.
I didn’t want to kiss him in that moment. My mind told me it was a bad idea even though I knew I would inevitably get sick. Stay away. Survive another day. He’s just vomited twice. You don’t want to deal with that kind of mess. I’m his dad though. I couldn’t resist. I bent down to give my son a kiss.
No one else ended up getting sick, but that’s not the point. I have been thinking about that moment since it happened as I entered into the Christmas season. I realize everyone has blown past Christmas now, but I like moving a little slower. It strikes me that this moment between my son and I is a little bit like the incarnation. God is looking down at a world covered in its own vomit. In its own way it is crying out for help. He doesn’t turn away. He sends His only son in this messed up world. The incarnation is God’s kiss upon this earth. He didn’t have to, but it is in His nature to be a loving father. It is a part of what makes Him who He is.
I have not written on here for a long time. I could say it is because I was busy, and that might partly be true. However, the main reason has been from discouragement. Last year the world just seemed to get a little nuttier. A little more ignorant. Slightly more insane. I had trouble deciding if I wanted to really try and throw my voice into any of it. Last year time and time again the world seemed to show its vomit stained clothing. Like a dog returns to its vomit, the world regularly seemed to return to its folly.
There was a flaw in my thinking. I let the world determine that what it was talking about is what needs to be said. That what they listen to is what needs to be heard. How can a Christian justify voting for so and so? How is the church supposed to respond to some perceived slight? How are believers supposed to live this way or that? The world was full of people telling everyone what to do. That just becomes a bunch of clanging cymbals.
Sometimes the world doesn’t need someone telling them how to change. There are moments where believers don’t need someone telling them how to live their life a certain way to be the “right” Christian. The church doesn’t need additional ridicule around every turn of another thing it is considered doing wrong. Sometimes everyone just needs people who are striving to follow Christ, and can regularly point to him. We all need to step back and let God tell us what needs to change in ourselves at times. Sometimes the world needs people who can just say “Stop. Listen. Breath.” That’s what I have been trying to do for myself lately. Stop and breathe. I’m not that great at it, but I am trying. I have been striving to put my rhythm in check with God’s agenda. It requires regular maintenance. There is no step to make this be an auto-pilot function.
I have wanted to make a commitment to stay engaged. I am focusing to keep writing. After all, others who write and lead astray will not stop due to my discouragement. It may not be anything spectacular. It may not be filled with sage wisdom. Honestly, there is a real chance it may not do much of anything at all. I can only write what I know and being taught. Today it is simply this. Stop and breathe. When Jesus entered this vomit filled world he spent a great deal of it inviting others to follow his rhythm of the day. His rhythm always included a great deal of this concept. Stop. Breathe. Listen. The world is clamoring to tell you everything that is wrong. Tune it out for a bit. The world does not need one more reactionary. It needs a responder. Know the difference.