Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Courage



This opus is enough for about 5 blog posts. It turned out to be so long and unbridled that I have divided it into 3 parts.  I don't have the time am unwilling to take the time to edit. If you are masochistic enough to want to plow through it, please feel free to give yourself several days. Just pretend that I'm one of those diligent daily bloggers, and do one part per day...


Part 1


I’d set aside the day (yesterday) to read, pray, get my head together (as if), and write.

I did the first two, then dallied around and wasted some time. Then I dallied some more.

Finally, I sat down to write. I clicked onto the Margery icon on my desktop.

It looked different. At the top were the bottoms of four little pages that said something like “Lorem Ipsum.” I could see the bottom half of my email address, underneath which there was a space in which to type in my password. “What in the world?” I grumbled. “Why are they always changing things around? Old people don’t like change.”  Nevertheless, I obediently typed in my password, and

nothing happened.

I redid it multiple times. And nothing happened then, either.

I couldn’t open my own page. There was no way to get into “settings.” None of the usual stuff was at the top. Nothing but “Lorem Ipsum” x 4 and a blank space for my password that evidently wasn’t working.

I clicked on the last post’s comments to see what would happen. A new page came up inviting me to join Google and to set up a Blogger blog. “But I already have a Blogger blog. Three, actually.”

The stomach tightens. The pulse quickens. Has Blogger somehow forgotten me? Has some random glitch erased everything? Are those thousands... hundreds of thousands... of words still floating around in space? Has our story been eradicated? Did I forget to pay for something, renew something?

Panicking, I click on Katherine’s Mom’s Blog and In the Meantime to see if they’re still there. Yes, but no way to “sign in” on either of them, either.

Maybe something’s just wrong with my laptop. I grab the Ipad and click on Marg. The strange things aren’t at the top of the page. Sigh of relief.

Until I try to sign in.

I run to the antique family computer and try to access through Internet Explorer instead of Google. Still no luck.

I realize there’s no way I can get on my own blog to let you know that I can’t get on my own blog. I can’t even comment.

Willing myself to calm down, I go to Blogger Help and jump through every hoop they ask me to jump through for about an hour. I shut it down and start it back. I read the directions, and go from external Help site to site. (Ask.com?) But I don’t know about any of this stuff. They’re talking about Browsers and Cookies and this and that. To me, a Browser is a recreational shopper, and a Cookie is something you eat. I’m clicking on every link, emailing cries for help to Blogger. The answers are all useless.

I read the “Last Resort” section.  I start crying out-loud in frustration. I’ve already done those things, or don’t have a clue how to do them.

And then I really come to the last resort, and lay my hands on the keyboard and pray.

When I open my eyes, I notice a part I didn’t notice before (in my panic) about switching from Google to Google Chrome. I download it, go through more hoops, and finally, shakily, I find my way back to familiar territory.

My little space.

And I realize it feels like home.


Part 2

Never, in my wildest imagination, could I have guessed that I would come to feel this way about this vehicle of communication. Friends and long-term readers know about my life-long aversion to gadgetry of every kind. I don’t even like to talk on the phone.

I still don’t love this battered plastic rectangle with lettered keys; I love the community of invisible friends that it has created and enabled. The prospect of losing that fellowship made me realize how much I would miss it if it were gone.

I would miss you.

I had a fresh comprehension of what a privilege this whole blogging thing is… remembering that with privilege comes responsibility.

And, in this case, risk.

I am not completely naïve. It’s been a calculated risk. I’ve sent out an open invitation to one and all to come into my life and the life of my family and share our journey. Not to have the run of the house, though. I haven’t opened the door to every room. Some doors will remain closed for the duration. For every story I share, there are 100 I don’t. (Won’t or can’t.)

(For newcomers, here is how it all began: http://katherineawolf.blogspot.com/2008/10/public-exposure.html)

A while back, a reader advised me to “put my big girl panties on” in dealing with negative comments. When you invite the whole world into your little corner of it, you’d better be ready for some carpet stains. But it has been astonishing how respectful my visitors have been. 99.9% of the comments have been encouraging, insightful, and enlightening. They have been a blessing and a great help.

Over time, we’ve come to know each other a little. Obviously, most of you know me better than I know most of you. Still, I have felt a beautiful sense of kinship and support here. We’ve built relationship. (I’ve even gotten to meet some of you in Real Life!) It has come to feel like a (relatively) safe place for me. Almost as if there were an invisible hedge of protection around the perimeters of this virtual space. (That’s been a prayer, by the way.)

I’ve never wanted this place to feel like an exclusive club. I have purposely encouraged a variety of readership. As I’ve told you before, I don’t like the concept of just “preachin’ to the choir.” Diversity of opinion should be a welcome challenge for all of us.


I do almost none of the things you’re supposed to do in order to grow blog readership. So when someone new ends up here, I’ve felt like maybe there’s a reason. There are “first time readers” every time I look at the numbers. The majority take a peek and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”  A few stay and become friends.

But there’s a little fear in the back of my head that sneaks out every once and a while. It whispers things like this: “There are people reading who don’t like you or anything you stand for. They are just reading so they can mock you. They are delighted every time you make a fool of yourself. You provide entertainment.”

It’s kind of creepy to think that there may be people like that looking at my family pictures. Makes me feel like somebody’s going through my underwear drawer. But it’s the reality of the world we live in.

I don’t allow myself to dwell on those thoughts, though. The positive things that have resulted in risking vulnerability for the sake of openness far outweigh the negative.

Because there have been relatively few, the negative comments on the “Wounds” post caught me off-guard.

Then, I made a mistake: I responded. I engaged myself with the negativity.

I know better. Defending yourself never does any good. (“Jesus did not defend himself…”)  I didn’t follow the example of my role model. It only caused a backlash.

By the third unkind comment, my phone was going crazy.

It wasn’t just about me putting my big girl pants on.

The negativity was hurting people I love. Friends were angry. Some members of my family were upset. They don’t want/need to be associated with that kind of junk. It’s not what this place is about; it’s definitely not what other family sites are about.

It’s not the message of our story.

So I took it all down.

It made me sad to do so, because I felt the message was an important one.* One that I was supposed to publish for some reason.

Someone needed to hear it?


The next day, a heavy weight of discouragement descended. I felt crushed… little… defeated. I couldn’t really laugh, even though I was with some loved ones from out of town who normally make me die laughing.

My husband was exceptionally sweet to me.

He knew I was wounded.


Obviously, this is about a lot more than a couple of unkind comments. (Eph. 6:12)

Truth be told, none of this is easy for me now. I feel terminally tired. Out of steam. I’ve got some health problems. Just found out about a new one. I have a feeling that I’m not going to be a poster child for the AARP. I have to fight to stay on my feet sometimes. When I get to lie down, the last thing I feel like doing is writing.

Not complaining, just explaining. It is what it is. How it is. Whatever.

Discouragement is not always easy to avoid.


For any of us.


Part 3

I went to church on Sunday feeling bruised and small.

The sermon was entitled “A Call To Encouragement.”


Every word out of the preacher’s mouth was from God to me.

He talked about the ways in which the world can be such a discouraging place. How rampant a critical spirit is… how we humans love to tear each other down in order to feel better about ourselves. He talked about how criticism and negativity give off a foul smell that permeates all it comes in contact with. (Poisoning the emotional environment and crippling spirits, I would add. Btw, this is a very liberal paraphrase.)

But he encouraged us to remember our mission and our calling.

Rather than wasting energy putting out fires of negativity and criticism, we need to expend our energy in the ministry of encouragement.


En-courage.

From the French cour… from the Latin cor: heart

In courage.

We are called to instill each other with courage.


Take heart!

I have you in my heart…

and I’ve got your back covered.

Be of good cheer… fear not… the world, with all of its systems of destructive power, has been overcome!

And that is exactly what so many of you have done for me over and over and over again… some of you from the first hallucinatory, agonizing days in ICU. Your words have been powerful.

Think about it: We possess such latent power.

You have it. I have it. The power to bless, the power to express love, the power to build up, the power to encourage each other along this challenging journey. (Coupled with the equally potent power to curse, to tear down, to discourage.)

The latest outpouring of encouragement was well worth a down day or two for me.


Thank you so much for the kind comments and emails. The calls and hugs. For the avalanche of love and support.

It has reminded me of why I’m still doing this thing:

My prayer is that this will be a place of encouragement.

I hope that my sloppy stories might encourage someone to keep going when they feel like giving up. I hope that somebody might think, “Well, if God hasn’t given up on a mess like Kim, there’s still hope for me.”

I pray that a little lost sheep, thinking she’s gone way too far to go back home, might read a word here that starts her on her journey back to her Father’s open arms.

I pray that a seeker, drawn here in spite of himself, might want to know more about whatever cocktail that crazy woman is having. Whatever drug she’s on.

And that is why this will continue as it is.


Let’s make a pact to encourage as many people as we can.

It could change the world.

***************

“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Rom. 1:12

After debate, discussion, and prayer, I have made the decision to keep the comments turned on, and to put the Anonymous option back up again. The Dark will not transcend the Light here.

Here’s the caveat: If the comment is ugly or unkind, it will be deleted as soon as I see it.

Those are the rules for now. There may be more later.

***************

To see how many times the Bible mentions the ministry of encouragement, click here.



***************


*Today, many people (if they believe in God at all) view Him as a kill-joy. (Buzz-killer in current vernacular?) They’ve experienced Christianity as nothing more than a list of restrictive rules meant to keep them from doing what they want to do. The God of that religion doesn’t seem very loving or appealing.

It took me a long time to understand that the rules are not for our restriction, but for our protection. God’s not keeping something back from us. He’s given us our freedom, which is a glorious, but dangerous, thing. He is sad when we use it to harm ourselves. A parent (or grandparent) grieves when a child is hurt. I was not angry that James disobeyed my rule, I was just sorry that he hurt himself.

Since about day four of blogging, I have reiterated that I am not a perfect person. I make mistakes daily. I hope that my mistakes may be redeemed and used for good. In the incident in question, James and I both made mistakes. We both learned something. I was honest about the circumstances in the hope that someone else could learn something from them, too.

If you missed the post and would like to read it, email me at kta2754@gmail.com, and I’ll try to send it to you as soon as I find a spare minute.

Love, Kim

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bless you and your decision to continue with us. God has given you the gift of communication, and you have used it to honor God and minister to others. Please do not be discouraged and remember that when God opens a door there will still be challenges and adversities.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite online devotional sites has spent the last several days focusing on Barnabas (Son of Encouragement). The statement that jumped off the page in all the days was this:

"The truth is that you'll never look into the eyes of a single person who's not important to God! So help them"...with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault."

I continue to be grateful for your encouragement as you choose to share life with all of us!!

Continued love, hugs and prayers!!
L

Callie said...

i think that i was one of the people for whom that short-lived post was published. it meant a lot to me, as most of your words do. i just wanted to say thank you.

Anonymous said...

Kim,

When my son Rohit ( AA class of 2000) was a toddler, I had dozed off while watching him. In no time, he had cut his fingers on the heating/AC grill. He does not remember it now. I am sure your grandson won't either. It is all part of rearing kids.
Reading your blog makes me a better person.

mamata shetty

Amy said...

I'm so sorry that you felt the need to delete that post because I'm one of those people it spoke directly to on the day you posted it. (Actually, most of the time, your posts are God speaking through you to me. It's providential the timing of your posts with the things I pray about.)

This that you said in the tiny print at the end and in the last post is SO what I've been learning lately, as I try to allow God to be in the driver's seat for me in my singleness and desire to find the man He intends for me in this crazy society:

"It took me a long time to understand that the rules are not for our restriction, but for our protection. God’s not keeping something back from us. He’s given us our freedom, which is a glorious, but dangerous, thing. He is sad when we use it to harm ourselves."

Please don't be discouraged. Your words mean so much to me and so many others. God has given you such a gift of words, and the world of blogging would be sorely missing out if you stopped sharing your life and God's light shining through it.

Laurel said...

I apparently missed all the drama. Ah, well. It sounds like somebody missed the point. It happens.

In my world any injury that does not require stitches or medical intervention beyond the scope of a bandaid is a win. And usually a teachable moment.

Cindy said...

You said and did nothing wrong......we are all human and if truthful, we have all done the same or had a very similar experience. Thank you for standing firm in the faith and continuing to challenge,encourage and brighten our days.
Cindy

Catherine said...

Kim,
I am so glad you decided to keep writing! Your words typically seems like God is speaking directly to me. The short-lived post was no exception. I am a stay at home mom to a very active 16 month old and I am pregnant with my second. Most days I am just glad my child is in one piece at the end of the day. Bumps, cuts and bruises are part of their learning independence and boundaries!
Katherine and your family are such an inspiration.
God Bless!
Catherine

Karen said...

Dear Kim's family who call when people write negative comments,... stop it. Kim's blog is needful and wonderful. How else would we know what goes on in the life of doctor's wives? They seem to have sparkley lives, above the fray. Yet, look! They hurt just like us (surprise) Money doesn't fix everything. How would we know what happens in the heart of a believer when our dearest and best crash? How would we find our way in that darkness without Kim sharing the brutality of that journey? Maybe we wouldn't cut our knees so much if we knew those things were part of the process and God is faithful in the worst storms. It's one thing to read it in the Bible, it's another to read it in a modern day Margery. It's a good thing. This horrible thing that happened to your family isn't just your very own. It's meant to be shared so we can find our way when it's our turn. Everyone gets a turn on the ferris wheel of suffering. We are bearing one another's burdens when we weep together. Kim- thanks for being brave. I am sorry the enemy roared at you and tried to shut you up. He's a nasty, flea bitten old circus reject. The truth is always right and needs to be put on a lampstand.

Anonymous said...

Kim,
You are a brillant, talented writer and your faith in God is amazing. You continually lift my hopes and spirits with your honesty.
Please don't stop writing. We need your wisdom and knowledge.

BellaLinda said...

Kim,
I have not visited for awhile and also missed the drama. You have a gift that needs to be shared. Writing seems to be therapy for you. Looking back over what you have written and seeing the responses of those that you have touched, and how you have grown/changed through the good and bad times, will be very interesting. This is your blog and it is your right to delete the negative comments. You are all about being an encourager and picking yourself and going on with life. Thank you for sharing from your heart. I will pray for those who would discourage you from sharing your experiences with us. A big HUG to you.

Kim said...

Dear Friends,

Thank you for these kind words.

YOU ARE ALL ENCOURAGERS.

I do feel that 'I'm in your hearts, and you have my back.'

You inspire me to want to spread it around more and more. Let's all think of someone who needs it, and spread the love!

Even a 3-word text can make a difference in someone's life.

Bless you, one and all.

Love, Kim

p.s.

...just for the record...

my family is very supportive of me. They just don't like to see me hurt. (It's sweet.)

...and I'm not married to a doctor! I'm one of the few who went to Emory and didn't become one or marry one!

(inside Emory joke.)

xo

Anonymous said...

Dearest Kim,
I love your blog and am sorry I missed reading whatever was said "critically" of you.I wrote you some time back ( I have a son with blood disorder who is 17)We heard Katherine's story from a conference we attended in NH from her father-in -law in Sept , and I have been following her story & found you as a bonus :)You encourage me so very much and I love to read hear. Thanks for sharing!!! I pray for Katherine and you often and will continue to do so. I would love to read what I missed. My email will be sent to yours so I can read the post and pray. Keep doing what the Lord has clearly gifted you with. In His love, Katie Oliver

PS By the way I had a lazy day yesterday and watched a movie and Katherine was in it !!! I was so excited I had to rewind it so I could see her beautiful face :)

Kim said...

Katie,

I didn't receive the email with your address. Please try again!

Can't believe you saw the movie! Was it on TV?

Thank you for the encouragement.

Blessings!
Kim

Bon said...

I'm glad you are encouraged and know that you do have a message and a place. I would so miss you and the heart you give me each day. I'm a quiet lurker and have been for a very long time. Bless you. I've always commented anonymously but this time, for you, because its an important thing right now for me to stand up for you, I won't be anon. Hugs and thank you or being you and for not insisting that you have your perfect person pin. None of us do.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Hi Kim,

I'm sorry to hear that a post of yours was met with derisive comments that were hurtful to you and your family. I think your decision to delete hurtful comments is a smart and reasonable one. Molly Wizenberg of Orangette has a comment policy that I love:

"This site may be a public space, but it is also an extension of me and of my home. The Internet can feel like a good place to anonymously air one’s discontents, but meanness is no more welcome here than it would be if we were sitting together on the couch in the living room. I ask that you post only words that you would feel perfectly comfortable saying aloud to me in person, and I reserve the right to delete any comment that is hurtful or nasty."

Please know the good that you are doing here. Stay encouraged!

cheryl Doerr said...

Kim, not only have you encouraged me the last three years, but also my adult daughters. My daughter with 3 sons, faithfully reads your Blog and Katherine's updates and caring bridge before that. Three years ago, she was struggling with motherhood,and everything that comes with the territory. (only moms would understand, and maybe a few dads).It was Katherine's life that made her move from bitter to better. We feel like you are extended family. We pray for you, we wait for the newest lessons on life and living, with challenges that most of us will never know. And you never cease to help me get a hold of what is true and right. That being our Lord knows us and loves us, and is with us. For me and so many you are here for us for such a time as this. Much love to you my cyber-space friend..:) Cheryl d., West Linn, Ore.