Tuesday, November 17, 2009

P4E.122 "It Might Rain" Revisited

I've just finished reading Charles Dickens' The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain. In it, the Haunted Man often broods over wrongs done to him, trouble and sorrow of the past. The Ghost offers him the "gift" of removing the sorrow, wrong and trouble he has known from his memory. The Haunted Man hesitantly agrees. The Ghost grants his wish and adds that The Haunted Man will give the gift wherever he goes. It becomes clear that The Haunted Man's sense of compassion, empathy, forbearance, pity, patience and even love were grounded in the sorrow, wrong and trouble that were a part of his memory. Everywhere he goes, the people around him become irritable, impatient, unkind, ingrateful and regretful.

This idea, that the sorrow, wrong and trouble in our lives have the potential to promote positive character qualities, was a pleasant surpise to me. There is a strange connection to James' "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials..." but I hadn't ever thought of it quite the same way. Which is why I have complained and cursed and become angry when things went "wrong." I have been a terrible example.

My son Jon has had some hard hits in the last couple of weeks. He's lost two close friends and I have the sense that he might blame God for their loss. It has not escaped me that I have played a part in creating my sons' outlook on life. That my "It might rain" attitude has caused my sons to view God as an unjust, hard, unforgiving, irrational God because that was how I represented God as their father. It gives gives me great pain and grief to think on it.

I forgot (and I'm reminding you now) that sons (and daughters) establish their perception of the Heavenly Father by their earthly father's pattern. All the times that I was unjust, hard, unforgiving, irrational and critical must have had their affect on my sons. All the times that I blamed God for the things that went "wrong," the "bad" things that happened, the dreams that went unfulfilled, gave them a pattern for how to respond when things didn't go their way. My ingratefulness to God when things went right were not a good example. I am not saying that they are ingrateful. They are better than I am. But, whatever ingrateful tendencies they may have, I accept the possibility that they got them from me.

My only hope is that the true and living God has revealed Himself to them from other, more positive, sources and that they are open to continually receiving from Him. Also, that my regenerated self can continuously work to heal the previously inflicted wounds.

My relationships with my wife and sons are immeasurably better now than they were at their worst. I recall these things to share them with you in the hope that you will learn from my bad example and won't have to suffer the same consequences that I have.

In this time of Thanksgiving, we can not only give thanks, but "consider it all joy" for having encountered various trials...

Giving Thanks, Kim

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