Wednesday, July 18, 2012


People sometimes ask me, "What's wrong?" Usually, I honestly don't actually know specifically what's wrong, but instead of getting into that hot mess, I just tell them, "Nothing." They don't buy that, and they shouldn't. Of course something's wrong. As much as I try to fight against it, and as much as I don't want it to be true, and as much as I know it doesn't really matter just as much as it really matters, of course something's wrong.

I feel punished. Punished for what I've done and have failed to do. Punished for what I'm doing and fail to do. Punished for what I have yet to do and will fail to do. Woe is me.

Naughty as I am, that which has come my way has been richly deserved. I measure His plans for me by the amount of time I feel shamed. And there's something reassuring about the pain, even as it courses through me like some incurable disease. The more I am broken, the more He will work to put me together again. But it just doesn't feel like that. No. It feels like I am punished, and I always will be.

I know how my daughters, and the students I serve, feel when I punish them. Using the word makes me feel uncomfortable, but let's be honest, parents punish their children, and educators punish students. We punish one another. You can use whatever words make you feel more comfortable, but when it comes down to it, it's still punishment. Sorry, I don't know where I was headed there. Anyway, they may not believe I know how they feel, but I do. Sure as all get out I do. As certain as I am about understanding those feelings, I also know something else: When we are truly listened to, and when we truly listen, then we are learning. Punishment, then, isn't the beginning or the ending of the story.

Love, however, is.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, Thank you so much for sharing your pain. I have been going through some similar things as I continue to fight my cancer and the depression that walks hand and hand with it.

    I'm supposed to be in heaven according to medicine men. At times, I feel abandoned by family, friends and even God.

    A year ago, I went out seeking christian counsel and the pastor that I met with pulled out his Bible to show me that cancer is punishment for my sins and my dad's sins. My response was that if cancer is punishment for sins, does that mean we all have it? His answer was a dumbfounded look.

    He went on to tell me that he had lost his mother to cancer about a year before our meeting. My reply to that was I hoped he wasn't at her bedside instilling fear as she passed away. I never went back.

    I argue a lot with people about God's plans for me. I believe that God gave me cancer. Some people think that when I say that it means that our God is cruel. On the contrary. God didn't give me cancer for a punishment, he gave me it because he trusted me enough to learn to use it to serve him better.

    It doesn't take the pain of losing my life to it, but it does make me find Shalom as I lift it to him and pray for him to lead. If I thought for one second that cancer was not being controlled by a loving God then I wouldn't fight it, but lie down and surrender to it.

    You have been through hell friend. Your sister was very lucky to have a brother like you who misses her and doesn't let her memory fade. My sister and I talk about your situation sometimes because we are both friends of yours from Lafayette and the story takes our breath away. We pray for you and yours. I know the hopelessness you feel and described above about never being free from the feelings that you are being punished.

    Tom, our God is good. You have purpose in his plans. The pain is never going to completely leave you. You are going to flux between all five stages of grief until you are finally able to move from that place...take your own time.

    As far as God's plans for your life, maybe you lost your sister, so you could share your pain with people, like me, who needs to hear it. I am so sorry about your pain.

    Feeling like this depression monster might take over is more frightening to me than my cancer. You have inspired me hun. Keep writing and talking about it. Every once and awhile bring it up and share it with the students from above.

    I know that men and women think of things differently. Most men want to stuff their feelings and most women want every detail told. Don't stuff those feelings and thoughts or you will explode. Prayer works well for that "please leave me alone for a bit so I can sort things out" place we go to. God just listens. He doesn't drop silly advice for you that once worked for him. He doesn't interrupt you when you are pleading your case. God is good even we are not. He loves you Tom. He loves us all. Bless you and know that I am happy that you are a part of my song! I hope that you escaped the fires. Been praying about that and for the farmers here in Indiana that makes a living with his crops. We are still experiencing a drought.