With the fading of the New Year, credit card bills are arriving in the mail along with other mundane “down-to-earth” realities. Most would nod in agreement that just taking down the holiday ornaments is a challenging task. More broadly, there’s clearly a behavioral phenomenon emerging from the dimmed festive lights and recycling of the Christmas tree into compost. Postpartum holiday blues to label it lightly or depression to be more clinical. For some, the stark contrast between the euphoria of the season and “real-life” circumstances can be overwhelming. Add the havoc from predictable winter weather patterns of snow, ice, and rain, and a toxic brew forms that can knock down even the most optimistic Auld Lang Syne reveler.
When expectations collide with real world life, stress takes a toll. Unresolved stress levels can be fatal when problem solving and decision making are diminished. But, suicide rates are highest during the late spring and early summer months, not during the cold and dark months of the winter season. Hard data suggests there’s acceptance during harsh winters to get-tough, shovel the snow, pay the bills, and suck-it-up to deal with the myriad of circumstances of the post New Year’s party. While some use light therapy to ease through seasonal affective disorder (SAD), most just suffer through their despair and disappointment, kicking the can “down the road”.
No one better understands toil and hardship like a farmer. A planted seed doesn’t yield until it has been cracked in the soil, tilled, and cradled by life-giving rain. Eventually, the farmer’s broken seed reaps a harvest. From the moment of separation from the womb’s peace and comfort, the human experience is plagued by repeated and unforgiving brokenness. No one escapes pain and suffering. What’s God’s purpose for metaphorical brokenness?
My son had been riding his bicycle for several years. On that fateful day of the accident, his body went over the handle bars, head first onto the pavement. He tried to break the fall with his hands, but was too late to avoid severely chipping his front teeth. I still remember the image of his bloodied face and the emotion I felt upon embracing him to comfort. While not registering with a young child at the time, it was his first brokenness. Fortunately, his teeth were saved through the restorative skill of a dentist. Parents take all of a child’s blemishes with a courageous stride, and restrained grimace. I imagined what my parents must have felt when they learned my right arm was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. How does distress serve the life experience?
Chipped teeth and arm paralysis are trivial when compared to the atrocities of children around the globe. As an example, approximately 29,000 children under the age of five die every day, from preventable causes. More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. These deaths occur mainly in the developing world. Every day in the United States, 48 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention. Why do the most vulnerable have to suffer?
The ravages of injustice throughout human history have imparted devastating misery, but continues to be a mystery for most people. Spiritual teachings encourage leaning or embracing into life’s pain to cultivate compassion for others. With a life periodically cracked and broken, God’s light finds a way into the humbled soul to teach spiritual truths. When we’re broken, where do we find courage to bear the anguish?
Every family on the planet has a litany of tragic events that defy understanding and test their faith in a divine creator. My brother’s fourteen month old son drowned during a family celebration at our sister’s house. Nothing breaks the human heart more than the loss of a child. Unimaginable circumstances will never explain his early death, but “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
My covenant marriage was dissolved by Oregon’s no-fault divorce law. Every state in America has established no-fault divorce laws, effectively permitting either spouse to “walk-away” from the marriage. Though a divorce is opposed in four out of five cases by one spouse, it’s always granted by the court. Since 1969 when no-fault divorce was first put into law in California, there has been one divorce for every two marriages. Through America’s 47 years of no-fault divorce, family and moral values have been eroded. The agony and dark journey of divorce has crystalized my spiritual insights about suffering and broken seasons.
While not intuitive in the common man, bearing brokenness in the flesh is a portal to spiritual awareness and connection with God’s mercy and reconciliation. With transformation to our spiritual power in creation, the sacrifice of suffering opens a Heavenly presence to comfort and love others. Dare to live through brokenness; bearing our crosses with one another; and unified with the risen Christ for eternity.
Dare To Live
Try looking at tomorrow not yesterday
And all the things you left behind
All those tender words you did not say
The gentle touch you couldn't find
In these days of nameless faces
There is no one truth but only pieces
My life is all I have to give
Dare to live until the very last
Dare to live forget about the past
Dare to live giving something of yourself to others
Even when it seems there's nothing more left to give
But if you see a human
In front of your entrance
Who sleeps wrapped in a box,
If you would listen to the world in the morning
Without the noise of the rain
You are that one who can create with your voice
You think with the thoughts of people
Of the God who is just the God
To live, no one has ever taught it
To live, it's impossible to live without the past
To live is beautiful even if you have never asked for
It will be a song, someone will sing it