Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Abandonment Washes Away

Christmas is in essence such a time of joy. Yet accepting the season into our lives can sometimes be quite difficult. Personally, this season has been bittersweet every year that I can ever remember. When I was a youngster, I wished I had a larger family. When as a teenager I lost the little family I had, I longed for any family. And as an adult, I have mourned that deeper connection to a larger group no matter how I ended up spending Christmas.

Sometimes I spent it with the large family of my boyfriend at the time; those were probably the best Christmases I remember. Sometimes I spent it with my extended, and yet still small, family in Peru. Sometimes I spent it with a married friend's large family, sometimes with just one close friend and, not often (thank God), I have sometimes spent it alone.

My closest and wisest friends saw in my life a recurring theme: that I could not commit to and depend on someone. It wasn't a choice, really. There were always two forces at work: my love of my freedom which was with me ever since I can remember and, more to the core, the emotional loss of my mom at such a young and critical age that it left me wary of getting too attached to any one person or family. It's like abandonment was right around the corner, so I had to leave before I was left. I could never see it, but some of them could. It seems you can never see things clearly until you are ready.

It really boils down to trying to be in control -- trying to control the outcome and being prepared for all the possible options -- versus just letting things be. Now don't get me wrong: we all have choices and some amount of control about where those choices will lead. But we don't have control over the real reasons as to why we do the things we do and, in the end, we don't have control over many outcomes. (In my example: when my mother would be taken away.)

This lack of control and how we abandon and are abandoned is always most painful in our relationships. You can choose to put in effort, apologize when you make a mistake, be funny and interesting, be forgiving, and be whatever adjective you think it takes to have a deep, meaningful connection that lasts forever, and you could still end up divorced, never married, or essentially friendless at any point in time. Even if all your intimate relationships could be successful and everlasting, you will lose them through death eventually. That sounds horrific at first glance, but is it?

Jesus is, for Christians, our savior, our God. He is the model of perfect love, our teacher of perfect intimacy both with God and with one another. For others, He may simply be a folkloric wise man, taking any account of his life and who He really was as, at best, embellished, the gist of the truth likely getting lost in translation. But regardless of where your eyes fit on who He was, He is the most influential man that walked that planet:

We celebrate His birthday like no other. We celebrate His death and resurrection like no other, and we mention His name -- whether to give praise or take it in vain -- like no other. There is no question He is like no other.

So let's look at His intimate relationships. First with His Father, God. He put His relationship with God, as well as God's desires, first always. He put God above His earthly mom and foster dad. He put God above His friends and ultimately above Himself. So let's look at what that showed people of who God is: Jesus dined and communed with "sinners," He washed the apostles' feet, He preached and chastised, He expressed compassion, loneliness, and anger, losing patience at times. Yet He always showed His desire for intimacy and love with God and with the tribes of Israel and then ultimately with as many as asked of or would receive Him.

What was His reward at some critical moments in His life? Well, Peter denied Him three times, and all His friends abandoned him at one point. People spoke badly about Him and claimed he was possessed. He was homeless when he went preaching from town to town. His own kinsmen and the religious leaders of His day wanted Him crucified. He let it happen against His natural and good desire to live and allowed Himself to be crucified. And then on the cross, following His Father's will to the end, even to humiliation, physical and verbal abuse, and a painful death, what were some of His final words? "Father, why have you forsaken me?" I can't imagine how that moment must have felt for Jesus.

Abandonment, even temporarily, is devastating to most of us. Depending on the circumstances, we find it hard to trust again, and not just the individual responsible; we find it hard to trust someone new. And in essence we find it hard to trust God/love, ultimately, because He allowed it to happen.

Part of intimacy is allowing the undesirable to happen knowing that God/love will ultimately take care of us in the end. In these moments of joy and anguish in our closest relationships with each other and with God, let us take a moment and really see the baby Jesus and know He trusted us first. And that in the end if we turn back to God and each other, the abandonment washes away.


Anonymous said...
December 19, 2011 at 3:59 AM  

Hi Angela. Your personal experience, revealed, is a strong and concrete example of how love, faith and believe in life and/or the divine can sustain us along the path we have to walk.

Post a Comment