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Monday, May 22, 2006


weeds

I read some untruths about myself the other day. A disgruntled leaver (part of a duo) had sent a back-handed last word to my husband and me via my mailman. When the letter came, many months back, Dave kept it from me. "It will just make you mad," he said.

For a long time, though I thought of the letter on occasion, I resisted even asking. I didn't want to be mad. I wanted this chapter of my life to end. I've come to believe that some good byes turn a page with decisive finality, and sometimes, though you might wish it to be different, the ones who leave just aren't part of your story anymore. So for a long time, I didn't ask.

But then I did. I had a sense that all the loose ends had finally been tied, and that all that was left--before I could really put this hurtful scene away for good--was to know the contents of that letter.

When I asked, Dave repeated his warning. "If you feel you need to, go ahead and read it. But I still think it will make you mad."

It made me mad. It made me furious, actually, because the accusations were both harsh and untrue. Things I did say were ignored; things I didn't say were invented. I was made out to be more than what I am; my husband was made out to be less. Motives were twisted. Words were rearranged and taken out of context. Silly comparisons were made between our actions and theirs. Within about five minutes, all the joy I usually carry around with me had drained right out my toes and been replaced with bile.

I fumed all that day, and all the next. And though I stopped thinking about the lies during church (which was wonderful, by the way ... from worship, to Dave's message, to the fellowship afterwards), as soon as I got in my car and pulled out of the parking lot, the whispers started in again. "Who else did they tell this to? Who is out there believing I'd say such a stupid thing? Who has been turned against me because of these lies?"

I came home and meditated on those thoughts while I made lunch for Dave and the kids, and again while I changed into my gardening clothes, and again while I yanked weeds from the spot where green beans are supposed to be growing. I thought about them as I tackled a nettle patch, and dug the earth to brown again, and tossed bucket upon bucket of weeds into the chicken yard.

I pushed myself hard. Bitterness, it turns out, can be invigorating. All that pounding, stabbing, ripping and throwing made me feel a whole lot better on the outside, but inside, a battle raged.

About two hours into my therapy, a gray curtain settled over my garden and fat drops of rain began to kick up the dirt. I ignored the wetness for about five minutes, but when it became clear that it wasn't going to let up any time soon, I took my trough and my cushion into the greenhouse and took to ripping out the weeds among my tomatoes and artichokes.

God drove me to the greenhouse, and then His voice found a way past the pounding rain and my thrashing thoughts. I know the truth, my heart heard.

I know about the audience of One, and I allowed myself the tiniest measure of comfort from remembering that God does know the truth, and that my conscience is clean before Him. But to be slandered ... to have words put in my mouth that I'd never say ... to be completely misrepresented ... I just couldn't let it go.

Within seconds of hearing that quiet reminder, a hankering arrived from out of nowhere and convinced me stop digging and just enjoy the sound of rain. Dropping my trough, I moved to the center of the greenhouse, where one strip of dirt has yet to receive any seeds, and stretched out on my back. With my cushion serving as a pillow, I spent several minutes watching droplets of rain splat against the plastic ceiling above and form themselves into rushing rivulets that tracked off both sides of the roof. There's no other sound that calms me the way pounding rain does. It worked ... but only for a short while. Soon, my tortuous thoughts began to sneak back in.

But God intervened again. Just as the nastiness began to form anew, just as my heart began to quicken and a frown began to settle, He spoke again.

You have such a short time on earth. Is this really what you want to spend your time thinking about?

It wasn't. It isn't. So I asked Him to clear those thoughts from my mind, and He did. In their place, I spent twenty minutes thinking lovely thoughts about the One who tends my life, and surveys all my corners, and knows the gentlest ways to pull the weeds that need to go.

Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. --Phil 4:8-9 (TLB)

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16 Comment:

At 5/22/2006 12:37 PM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

Oh my friend...(((Shannon))) He does know the truth and He is your defender. I rest in that; knowing He will go before me and be my rear guard. It's so hard though when we need to be defended from friendly fire isn't it?

I wish I could wash away the hurt. I wish I could defend you myself...but I can't. All I can do is make sure you know I love you. (ALOT!)

 
At 5/22/2006 12:50 PM, Blogger Bill and Glory had this to say ...

Shannon, your words could so easily be mine from another time in my life!

It is so excruciatingly frustrating to mull over things that have been said and done and sometimes the misunderstandings are horrifying to face. Knowing God knows what is true, and that His thoughts toward us are good (NEVER evil) ALL the days of our lives, it washes away the pain and grit. Just like those fat drops of rain, God's love softens the soil around the roots of those weeds so we can yank and pull them out more effectively.

You are loved, indeed!

Glory

 
At 5/22/2006 2:13 PM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

My first thought was the same as Fran's -- He is your defender! Not just against lies, but against the arrows Satan uses to wound us with those lies! And what a moving illustration of the power of our words...yours for inspiring beauty, theirs for hateful ugliness.

I'm thinking you must be in a time of anointed ministry, or about to enter one, and our adversary is on the prowl to put you on the sidelines with anger.

Have I ever seen that battle in my life these last 6 weeks! I've been trying to do some writing ministry God's opened for me, and my only writing time is weekends. After much prayer and fasting this year, I just have the sense that He is about to move. And that it's important that I write/send it now. The first weekend I couldn't because of a sudden family crisis. The next weekend I developed an eye-threatening infection due to contacts (still can't wear them much & very difficult to work without them). Then in my Mr. Magoo state I somehow jammed my hand into the freezer door and nearly broke a finger. (I think God did a miracle healing there!) Following weekend I developed bad cold. This past weekend, I awoke with stomach flu. I don't usually see SPIRITUAL WARFARE under every rock, but this is getting ridiculous!! Especially since I'm rarely sick. But I keep hearing God... I will make a way. I'm going to use your words... So, blind and stumbling I'm determined... :)
Anyway, long story short, I think God uses you mightily Shannon, and I'm so glad you hear His voice! I know you know all this too. But be encouraged because "expansion of territories" must be on the way! And you are precious in his sight. :)

 
At 5/22/2006 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Oh Shannon! If I would have known how you struggled all day. . .

This blog brought me to tears, yet again. Not only in your writing, but also in the circumstances.

I totally agree with Fran. Rest in the fact that God is your defender, behind you and in front of you. He was there through it all and knows the truth. When you are tempted to be angry or sorrowful, remember God's words.
I'll do the same.

And, yes, know that you are loved :)

Cora

 
At 5/23/2006 10:35 AM, Blogger Nancy had this to say ...

Shan,

When I hear that someone has hurt you it makes me so angry. You have the kindest most loving soul and those of us who love you know this. And even better is that God knows this because He created you and He lives in you and through you. Step back into the shadow of His wings and He will protect and defend you, rest in that.

I love you!

Hey, did you say artichokes? I have lots of organic butter for dipping :)

 
At 5/23/2006 2:45 PM, Anonymous Jessica had this to say ...

We definitely do have so much to praise God for! :) Ill keep you in my prayers! :)

I just found your blog...if you stop by mine anytime soon...you'll see my kids in the adventure of planting their very first vegetable garden!!! LOL
Hope that you can find the time to come by my blog site and please post a comment when you do...I like for those who visit my site to let me know they've been there :) (you will need to 1. register (FREE), on the right side of my site before you post...this is just to make your visits more personalized, etc. and then 2. click "Leave Your Comments" back at the regular part of my site on any comments that interests you, and then 3. "Post Reply" once the comments page comes up and type your comment).

I'll try to visit your site regularly and hope that you visit mine as well! :) God Bless! :)

 
At 5/23/2006 3:39 PM, Blogger Ellen had this to say ...

Hi Shannon.... haven't been here for awhile and I then read this post of yours on the same day that I just posted about forgiveness (again). Hmmmm.... there is a message here somewhere. Guess we all face the same constant battles. But God is faithful and will help us through. Hey! WHERE OH WHERE IS YOUR BOOK?!?!?!? I'm getting weary with waiting! ha!
Have a blessed week.

 
At 5/24/2006 6:46 PM, Blogger Tom had this to say ...

My dad was a pastor, and sadly attacks on pastors (and their families) are reasonably common. It never ceased to amaze me how cruel Christians can be to their shepherds.

The worst part is, even though it shouldn't, it hurts every time. It seems morbid, but I think it's supposed to hurt. When it's all done, the pain will either drive you closer or farther from God. If it drives you closer, at least the pain had some purpose.

Thanks for the post. It was nice to read about someone who handled that situation so much better than I ever did.

 
At 5/24/2006 11:45 PM, Blogger Loni had this to say ...

I am so sorry you have had to go through this. I know this kind of pain. My heart goes out to you, and the lesson you learned and then shared. THANK YOU!

The verse that comes to mind is
"He was dispised and rejected". Jesus knows the same pain.

Loni
(My blog has moved . . .
http://joyinthemorning.clubmom.com )

 
At 5/25/2006 3:11 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess had this to say ...

I read the other comments and I am right along with them... then, it occurred to me... How truly wonderful to have the Father's ways contrasted so beautifully. Can we fully, deeply and wonderfully appreciate our Father to the breadth He should be, if we have nothing to compare it to? Without the Light, darkness is nothing... Light doesn't need darkness to shine, yet here on earth it makes a great contrast!

 
At 5/26/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Shannon, it sounds to me like the birth of a book:
Audience of One. He's all that matters. I'm hoping you'll write it, and I'll be the first in line for a signed copy.

What a trying time for you. I hope you'll let the Lord turn it into something we can all learn from. Audience of One. I really like that title.

 
At 5/27/2006 2:19 PM, Blogger horseygal had this to say ...

I love your blog!
And BTW, "Audience of One" is one of my favorite Praise and Worship songs!

 
At 5/29/2006 8:15 AM, Anonymous Linda had this to say ...

He is the Wounded Healer who heals all our wounds. And then enables us to bring hope and healing to others.

Praise God! The enemy is defeated when we respond as Jesus would.

Easier said ...

 
At 5/31/2006 11:35 AM, Blogger Vicki had this to say ...

Oh, Shannon. I know this pain, too. Your words spoke for so many of us, and yet my heart needed to return to Him today, to know that I live and write for an audience of One. Thank you. Your prose is beautiful. Your heart even more so.

 
At 6/01/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger Jim Martin had this to say ...

Shannon,
I suspect that many, many of us in ministry can identify with you. I'm sorry.

 
At 6/19/2006 10:32 AM, Anonymous Lauren had this to say ...

Hi Shannon, I came back to check on you and God leads me to the post I needed to read. I'm struggling with a similiar circumstance.

I can not imagine what someone could possibly find bad to say about you, your heart for the Lord is so evident, so obvious. Strangely, it gives me peace to know even you can be put through something like this. I hope that made sense - I just can't imagine someone thinking or saying something bad about you.

 

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