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Monday, February 23, 2015

Out of the darkness and into the light.

Amazingly enough, we just have to realize that some truths are universal.  Like as in everything else about human nature, we can crack open a bible and find that nothing is new under the sun.  But, I digress.  Just as His chosen people were called out of the darkness and into the light...

(originally posted 2/23/15, my father has since passed away)

1 Peter 2:9 (KJ21) 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

As many of you know, my dad has later stage Parkinson's.  He has little ability to do much for himself.  He gets most of his feedings through a tube and sometimes is allowed to eat yogurt.  Sometimes, he has his coherent moments and his incoherent moments.  Suffice to say, he needs constant care or supervision.  Anyway, I visit him when I can, when I don't have my daughter as he's never been big into grand-kids.   Yesterday, I visited him and I ran into this character who called himself "New York"--real name Juan.  Anyway, I asked him about that and he's originally from the Queens/Brooklyn area.  Interesting story.  He felt like his life path was meant to take him out of New York.  He expected he'd go to Mississippi at some point.  Anyway, he was hanging in St. Louis visiting people he knew and was playing a pickup game of basketball.  He alluded to the fact that he played D league basketball in his younger years.  Those are like NBA minor leagues is what I've heard.  Anyway, unbeknownst to him, someone was fixing to do a drive-by.  He was like, "While everyone else was diving for cover, I was jumping for the ball."  Long story short, a few got hit, but none as bad as he did.  He sustained a shot to his spinal cord and was rendered a paraplegic.  He was initially saying to the ambulance driver that he needs to go the hospital to get patched up so he can get back to hoops.   Some might take that as denial or not grasping, but it sounds like with him it was a never say die spirit.  Long story short, he could have lived with relatives, but he choose at this time to receive long-term care at my dad's nursing home.  He felt a calling, almost like that's where he needed to be.  
I was fascinated by his story.  3 days in town and his life was changed forever, yet he chose not to be bitter at God or St. Louis.  His family back in New York, was like out of all the people we least expected something like this to happen to him.  We were having a good spiritual discussion and I said maybe God knew that you out of all the people you know could have handled this.  In other words, if this was fated to happen, a lessor person would have folded.  He said his grandpa said something like that.  He also said that in a way, he felt like God was telling him to slow down.  So, he's the one who picks up the spirit of residents like my dad.  Out of darkness comes light.  Could have dove inward and been bitter, but instead gives back after having so much stolen from him.
So, he's working on my dad.  Getting him to come to terms, etc.   Now my dad is 'old school' prejudice I want my boys to marry blonde haired, blue-eyed Aryan woman type.  He actually said that. Not to make excuses, but I have an idea of the environment he was raised...  Anyway ex was a brunette and had brown eyes and offered to dye her hair and get blue contacts, but he was like you know what I mean.  (LOL)   I love my dad, but don't always like him, but he's one the lessor likely candidates for an NAACP, diversity awareness type award.  But a funny thing happened, "New York" is a considerably younger African-American male with a lot of tattoos and yet he choose to befriend my dad.  My dad counts him as a friend.  Perhaps my dad can better appreciate those different than him.  A part of me is amused and a part of me is like wow, God works in mysterious ways.  So, anyway, I talked it up with New York and said, you know if there is anything you can do to help, work on his spirituality and coming to terms with his health issues (rather than being delusional).   I think I might take some time out to just visit this cat outside of a dad visit.  :-)
Does God wish for bad things to happen to us?  I am fairly sure He doesn't.  Does He cause bad things to happen?  Once again, I'm tending to think no.  Does He allow?  Well God, being God does have ultimate say.  Healings occur where the prognosis looks grim.  People come into our lives at the seeming right moment.  We nearly avoid tragedies from time to time.  So, I believe He can and does step in, especially when we pray to Him about our concerns.  But, as with free will and us not having immortality.  He doesn't control us and bad things happen.  However, I am of the belief that He uses bad circumstances, our darkest hours to change us, to allow an opportunity to grow, to offer us freedom.
  • My brother's death was a wake-up call to me to not bottle things up, to stand up where I would not have had the strength or insight to, to reevaluate to make sure I didn't go down the rabbit hole he did.  Perhaps, as bad as it was, God used the shock of his death granted me life in a way.
  • My mom's sudden passing last year gave me the opportunity to grown and mature.  Someone had to step up and say, I will make sure it is paid for, it is done right.   I wasn't asking for it, but in life, our role are revealed.  Out of love for her, I was not going to fight my role.  Knowing that I could handle this trial by fire made me realize that I was stronger than I thought.                          
Most people, if they look hard enough have a circumstance or two (or more) in which the darkest hour has the potential to have a silver lining:
  • A new path opens which you could never have anticipated.  Meet new friends, develop new support networks.
  • An opportunity to realize strength where you didn't realize you had it.  Burying a loved one.
  • You wake up and realize the path you were on was leading you to destruction.  For example, a drinking buddy gets killed and there but for the grace of God, could it have been you with him, the next time.
As a corollary, understanding and appreciating the silver lining doesn't mean you are grateful for the dark clouds, it just means God has given you the wisdom to see good come out of bad.  For example, it was hard to watch my late brother descend and it was equally as hard seeing good out of it.  But, I have to trust God that he's in a better place and that God used that as an opportunity to shake things up in my life.  I will always remember him and wish things hadn't turned out the way they did, but I can take away the silver lining without guilt.

(If you like this post, look at Finding Jewels in the Darkness for similar thoughts)

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