Thursday, June 30, 2011

Death, Destiny and God

There are times when my brain wraps itself around a certain idea, question or memory and won’t let it go. The thoughts churn away in my head, keeping me awake. I lie in bed pondering, remembering, trying to make sense of whatever has captivated my mind. That happened to me while I was on vacation.

Cole was having trouble falling asleep last week. I took him out on the porch of the beach house, sat on the swing and began to sing to him as I had done numerous times before. For some reason a line I sung stayed with me. “You won’t be called home until it’s your time.” I had no explanation why tears began to roll down my cheeks as the chorus continued to reverberate through my mind, my heart.

Long after Cole had been placed in his crib I sat on the porch, looking out over the ocean, reviewing all the things that had happened in my life and things I had seen in the news. Wondering if the statement was true. Were some people always meant to die young? Maybe it is blasphemy what I am about to write but what follows are the questions and thoughts that have been occupying my brain for the past week.

Ecclesiastes 3
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;

Four things most Christians are taught; we each have our own destiny, we have purpose in life and we have free will under God. We are taught there is a book of life that was written before time began, it includes everyone’s name, the date of our birth and the date of our death.

Exodus 32:31-33
Moses knew of the existence of Jehovah’s book of life, and realized a person’s name could be removed from it.

What if our birth date is etched in stone but our death date is not there or could be changed the same as a person’s name could be removed from the book of life? Could it be free will has the ability to change when some of us die?

Could it be God has chosen a destiny for all of us but through our own time and faults we can possibly change it? Or could it be God’s destiny is the same for all of us, to live a long and happy life? Is it possible through free will we have the ability to change the course of our own providence? Can we alter the providence of another? I know God is always with us. If we listen he will guide us but through free will we always have the ability to make the right as well as the wrong decision. Or is making the wrong decision always been our destiny? Can free will and destiny coincide?

My father once told me “We are put on this earth to take care of each other” Could our purpose be that simple? Do too many of us struggle searching for our purpose, the meaning of life when all God wants and desires of us is to love and help each other?

Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

How many times have we heard someone say I married the wrong person, or read about a child or adult who died way too young. I believe in a loving and forgiving God. I can not believe in my heart he would want us to marry the wrong person, be with an abusive or cheating spouse. I believe God’s plan is for all of us to live a long and happy life. To find love, have children and share God’s love with them, with each other. Wasn't that God’s first blessing to us? Life is the most precious gift, God choose to give it to us so doesn’t that mean he would want us to enjoy it, cherish it?

God is always there trying to shepherd us in the right direction, help us find the fruits of his blessings. Sometimes we can look back and clearly see when God put the right person in our life but out of fear, out of confusion, we made the wrong decision, let them walk out of our life, wasted precious time. If we are lucky we can fix our mistakes but other times it is no longer possible and we must search for an alternative, pray God grants us a plan B as it may be. We simply have to listen and wait for God’s guidance when we have made a mistake. Pray God forgives us for not recognizing the gift he was trying to grant us. Try to drown out the guilt we feel, wondering if our mistakes changed another’s destiny. Would they have made that decision if we were a constant in their life? When the guilt, doubts, questions arise is when we need God the most. At times we may feel abandoned, alone and lost but I believe if we are quiet we can hear God. He is the constant in our lives.

Why do I suppose our death date is changeable? Watching the news this morning, I can’t believe God would put such a beautiful child as Caylee Anthony on this earth only to have her murdered. What purpose did that serve? Why would God want anyone murdered? He teaches us forgiveness not hatred and anger. Why would he bless us, give us life and then take it away so young. Why would he inflict so much pain on a child, on those who loved them? He doesn’t, he gives us the strength, love and faith we need to make it through the loss, the heartache, the sorrow. I truly believe we do not die alone, God sends us an Angel to help us on our journey to Heaven, comfort us in our pain, hold us in their arms our last few minutes or seconds on earth. I believe God is loving but the universe can be cruel, there is undoubtedly evil in the world.

I don’t believe God ever intends for someone to be killed by a drunk driver or any other kind of accident. I believe unplanned deaths happen because of free will, someone made the wrong decision, made a mistake. We are all imperfect, human. Accidents can sometimes be just that, an unplanned accident. Our decisions good and bad effect everyone around us. Our mistakes can change someone else’s destiny. Free will is a powerful gift and can effect us both good and bad.

I can’t explain cancer and other diseases that take the lives of so many young people. Maybe through the 2000 plus years of our evolution we have changed our environment so much we are causing cancer. I do know God has given us the intellect and power to find a cure. Miracles, the power of prayer I believe in them but I can’t explain why one person is saved over another. There are so many questions that I can not answer. Questions left in my brain that I can continue to ponder or give them up to God.

Whether I am right or wrong there is one thing I am convinced of, grace. When life does not go as planned, when we make the wrong decision, God grants us grace. Through grace he gives us strength when we are at our weakest. Grace carries us during hard times when we are struggling. Not only does God bestow upon us his grace but we have the ability to share his grace with others. Comfort those in need, help them when they are lost.

For now the questions will continue to swirl in my head. I know I will never have all the answers until I go to heaven. Until then I will try to have the unfaltering faith of a child. Do my best to follow one purpose I am positive of, to love, forgive and take care of my fellow man here on earth.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The People Who Know Me Best

Saturday night I visited with some old schoolmates at Kaufmann’s. It was great to be able to spend time with some of my friends I have not seen in twenty years. I marveled at how long it had been since we had all last hung out together. Yet time seem to melt away as we all laughed, ate, drank and swamped life stories. There is something extremely comfortable about sitting around a table with the people who shared your awkward years, who witnessed your metamorphosis from scared child to a young adult. I came to the realization during our conversations, my high school friends no matter how much time has passed, how much I thought life had changed me, they are the one group of people who understand and know who I am. They have no wild expectations of me, no preconceived notions of how I should act or feel. They never compare me to or expect me to be anyone but myself. They accept me mistakes, faults, quirks and all.

Some people believe when they lose touch with old friends they no longer share as close of a connection they once had, time had some how diminished their relationship. In fact it is the opposite. It may be unfathomable to some, but I have discovered time does not weaken or erase the bonds we developed in our teen years. There may be a little dust but some connections defy explanation, the bonds are unbreakable. The revelation occurred to me during a conversation over a few drinks with an old friend.

Whenever I am out, at some point during the evening someone will usually bring up the topic of my blog. I don’t mind, I find it flattering that they take time to read what I have written, my crazy ramblings. Last night was no exception. I was asked a couple questions about a few posts then quickly scolded for not posting anything new. I apologized for in essence ignoring my blog, not writing more, then explained why, the debate that was raging in my head. I informed him about some of the private messages I had received since January. The especially hurtful emails and attacks over my last post. They all left me wondering why I expose so much of myself when I write, I questioned should I remain so open? I further explained over the past year I learned because I have been so honest with how I feel or felt I was labeled by some people as emotionally irrational. To them it was not normal to care so much. I understood I should ignore them but it was hard to when their attacks were in essence meant to hurt me, attack who I was. He laughed told me not to let morons who did not understand honesty, compassion, love and loyalty to bother me. He made the correct assumption that the more hurtful comments and emails were coming from people who had never met me, had never taken the time to get to know me. He pointed out they did not understand me, they read what I wrote and made assumptions based on their life not mine. They were trying to understand me through facebook status messages and my blog. He stated I was much more complex than the two sites would ever allow them to see. My words were at times too honest, so open, they allowed the unfamaliar reader to see the depth of my emotion without them understanding that was not abnormal, that is who I have always been, extremely compassionate and loving. They only saw a partial picture of me. They were seeing me through my blog in black and white when I lived in a world full of color, full of emotion. To him “I was a labyrinth of beauty.”

He went on to tell me the reason he loved my blog, it was the honest me, the girl he remembers from junior high and high school. The sweet girl who wanted everyone around her to be happy, the constant peace maker between friends. The girl who kept everything hidden inside. The girl with all heart. The girl who cried at a party because I had hit a squirrel with my car. He chuckled made the statement, I probably still felt guilty over killing it. (By the way, yes I do thanks for reminding me) He laughed at my one blog when I made the statement I was and would never be the woman who turned men’s head. I was wrong in that assumption. It brought back the memory of the first time I showed up at the pool in a bikini, plopped down on a towel next to him and began talking about Orioles baseball game from the night before. He confessed how hard it was for him to concentrate on the conversation while I was applying suntan lotion, then laid down and untied my strings so I would not have tan lines. He confided he had to get up mid conversation so he would not be ‘embarrassed’. He explained at lunch I was surrounded by the guys not because I was one of them or they wanted to steal my food but rather they wanted to be around me. I never seemed to grasp that concept. He could never figure out who I liked, none of them could. I was a constant mystery. To him and many of his friends I was almost unobtainable in high school because they had watched me transform from this shy insecure funny looking little girl in junior high to this amazing, talented, bubbly, beautiful, intelligent free spirit. I had grown from the band geek to the captain of the pom squad, from tom boy to wow. I was naive to my own changes. That was my charm to him, I was real in a world of very fake girls. Added bonus, I knew the starting line-up and stats of the O's.

He loved how I was always extremely innocent and genuine with how I felt, I expected others to be the same way. I was the one person he knew could never lie, I didn’t have it in my soul. He could tell through my writing I was still very honest and passionate with how I felt and thought others should be. He reminded me of the time I walked up to him in the hall and very bluntly told him he was an utter jackass. Not for something he had done to me but to a friend. When I confronted him, he knew he had to be a complete jackass probably worse because I was the one person who hated confrontations, never said anything bad about another person. Then true to “Denise form” two periods later he was passed a note from me apologizing for being so blunt and rude. He loved how I always defended my friends, stood up for them. He was amazed no matter how badly someone had hurt me I always forgave them and it was never mentioned again. I always seem to simply move on, continue to push forward.

As he continued reminiscing about some of my more goofier defining moments, I looked at my high school friends surrounding me. We had shared so much together, the connection was immeasurable. We all experienced those incredible gawky teenage years. The pimples, the bad hair days, the horrible gym uniforms, the first awkward moment in front of the opposite sex, we lived it all together and survived. Our friends made us laugh after we had been ignored by the 'love of our life' at a party. We sat with them during lunch shared the joy of our first “you wouldn’t believe it” kiss by our locker between classes! We passed notes and shared secrets. They rejoiced in our excitement when we were finally asked to a dance and experienced our pain when our hearts were broken. They never left our sides as we pushed our limits, tested our boundaries. They were the ones banging on our window when we were on restriction bringing us McDonald's fries or trying to convince us to sneak out. Our high school friends were our compass to life. Sometimes they pointed us in the correct direction, other times we strayed off the path but no matter what route we took, they were always by our side.

I have close college friends, work friends, neighbors but they will never be as extraordinary as my high school friends. My friends who watched me spread my wings, help define who I am. They kicked me in my butt and kept me in check. They witnessed me as I grew, developed my character, my personality, my uniqueness. They taught me how to be a good friend. They are the foundation I built all my other friendships on. No matter how much time has passed hanging out with my high school friends will always be like coming home. There is no breaking or weakening that undeniable bond.

The connection I shared with my friends was confirmed when we all parted ways, headed home. As my friend hugged me goodbye he let me know if anyone ever caused me pain, questioned who I was, I simply had to give them his number. He would gladly catch my back, explain to them who I was, how much I was loved, how they should be honored that I was allowing them to be part of my life. He always felt that way. He was positive if he put the word out there would be a long line of Arundelites right behind him coming to my rescue, my defense. I did not doubt him, I knew what he said was true because I would do the same for him. I will always be there for my 'buddies'. I will always have my ‘friends back’. My high school friends are my rock, my strength, they will always be a part of me. They know and understand me better than anyone ever will, sometimes better than myself. I love them dearly and they will always be my family!