Monday, May 24, 2010

Tender Mercies

I've wandered away from it all, from the fresh simplicity of childlike faith. I want to be open to faith's many nuances, to the soft murmurs of the Holy Spirit beckoning me to come closer, to relax, to see with eyes wide open the miracles which abound in my oh so ordinary life.

The weekend once more and my son, living in the aftermath of his motorcycle accident (and the resulting brain injuries), is here, spending time with his family. We step out front to smoke; we have this in common, this bad habit which shames me and from which I can't seem to wrench myself . I perch on a tiny little porcelain table left by previous owners, using it for a stool where often I meditate,thinking of my convoluted life and how it got to be that way, and what it can possibly mean. My son stands next to the blossoming rose bush I forgot to prune; I see something endearing in his bow-legged stance next to my favorite flowers and am touched deeply, though I can't think why. This son, who often makes me laugh, is evidence or proof of something, but when I try to nail down my thoughts on this they take off for flight, perhaps joining the blackbirds cawing from distant telephone lines. I think there must be a lesson in all that he has suffered, something for me (a few crumbs at least) but mostly for him. What could he learn from such sufferings, especially when his brain is no longer functioning at full capacity? For me, then, and those who love him: are we who the lesson is for, those of us who in many ways have suffered more from his accident than he, not having the luxury of the distance which surely comes from a scrambled brain?

I listen to my son telling me a funny story. This he has not lost, his amazing sense of humor. His outlook on life is mostly positive considering that nothing in his life will ever again be the same. His wants are few, but when he wants something he wants it now. I watch and listen, head tilted slightly, marveling that for all the changes I love him just the same. In some ways he's a whole new person, but there is enough of the old mixed in with the new that to spend time with him is like visiting an old, dear friend rather than meeting a stranger for the first time.

My son is more affectionate than ever. He often hugs me spontaneously, telling me what a sweet little mama I am, murmuring words of love and affection with tears in his eyes. His accident has brought us closer together. My heart aches for him, aches in the manner of a never-ending bad tooth. I want for the past couple of years to go away, for the accident to have never happened--but do I want this for him or for me? Both, I decide. And what difference does it make who I wish it for seeing as how this is who my son is now, the sum total of his life experiences, including that horrible moment in time when his motorcycle made impact with a car and sent him flying head first into its back window.

But back to simple faith which, I begin to suspect, is much simpler in the abstract than in the actual doing. To simply rest in the Lord's wise and loving providence is what I've gotten away from. Tears sting my eyes, watching my son smoke, remembering all those nights he lay in a coma and I sat outside in the midnight dark attempting to form some sense of it all, my breath coming in little rasps as I realized that it had finally happened, I'd finally been faced with something so extraordinarily heart-wrenching as to be my eternal undoing. But then . . .  but then little by little God murmured to me and my heart listened and I asked the only question I could of myself in that situation: how did my son's accident (for I didn't know at this point whether he would live or die) change things with my God?

Scriptures floated, fragmented, through my mind, but it wasn't Scriptures I wanted just then. I knew so many of them by heart, I drew no consolation from any of them. What did I now think of God, now that He'd done the unthinkable and asked of me this hard thing at which I was certain to fail? To think and sing of God's mysterious ways and the implication that though we may not always understand those ways, we can trust God's character--oh, how mindlessly in the past I'd sung those words, had those thoughts, convinced I would be true to my Lord come what may. And here I was, perched on a wooden porch in the dead of night, smoking my brains out, knowing the futility of bargaining with God. How tempted I was to try, to say (with every ounce of human charm I possessed), "If only you'll spare my son's life I'll ______." I'm not sure how I filled in the blank; quite possibly with a different word each time. But no matter, for I couldn't do it, couldn't try to coax God into making His will my own.

Whether days or weeks went by before I reached a resolution of sorts, I couldn't say. It's all a blur now. I remember asking myself, late one night, what my son's accident meant to my relationship with the God I'd been following for over 50 years. Did it change anything? Had He suddenly become a cold hearted stranger to me?

I had no one to send on my behalf, for it had come down to this: my God and myself. Could I still trust Him? Would I choose to do so? At some point in this little drama I asked myself if my son's accident changed anything between me and God, and with great relief I could honestly say that no, it hadn't. I remember telling God, "I don't know why You allowed this to happen, I don't know what the outcome will be, but it doesn't change anything between us. It just doesn't."

Faith as a little child? I felt more like a withered crone come to the last end of her days. But the entire weight of my history--of all those dreary years of reaching out for God and failing again and again to walk in holiness--oh, the weight of all that history came to my rescue, reminding me that as unfaithful as I'd been (and it seems my only consistency had been my inconsistency), God had never been unfaithful to me.

Tender mercies, new every morning.

For He is near to the broken-hearted, and what a wonderful thing that this is so!


  1. This is such a wonderful piece of writing. You have a gift for expressing inner thoughts and feelings in such a marvelous way. Anything I might say would only detract from it. Thank-you for sharing all of this.

  2. Dearest Beauty,
    I am moved to my tender core by your beautiful story and honored that you share so honestly what is in your heart. How I long to be more like you, to trust the gift that God has given me and just let the words come out without the ever present fear of reproach or embarrassment.
    What a weak and silly girl I am.

    I love to read this, I love to hear of your struggle with God. I believe HE loves it too and it makes Him even more tender toward you. I believe this because I feel that way about his tenderness toward me as I struggle.

    I want to share some things with you below. These are words about Tender Mercies which mean so much to me. I hope they are received by you as just that, words I love and believe with all of my heart to be true. At the end I will post the link where you can find all of the words of this testimony.


    "The tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them."

    "Recall how the Savior instructed His Apostles that He would not leave them comfortless. Not only would He send “another Comforter” (John 14:16), even the Holy Ghost, but the Savior said that He would come to them (see John 14:18). Let me suggest that one of the ways whereby the Savior comes to each of us is through His abundant and tender mercies. For instance, as you and I face challenges and tests in our lives, the gift of faith and an appropriate sense of personal confidence that reaches beyond our own capacity are two examples of the tender mercies of the Lord."

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Clay.

  4. Thanks Vicki, I appreciate the comment, and quote, and am now going to check out the link you included.


Comments, anyone? I'd love to hear your point of view.